Winter Haven Police have taken two men into custody for burglarizing vehicles after an alert citizen saw the pair and reported their activity.
On 10-30-16 at approximately 11:26 p.m., a witness sitting in his vehicle in the parking lot of McDonalds (245 6th St NW, Winter Haven) saw two black males break out a window in the parking lot. The witness observed the males take something from the vehicle and then leave the parking lot walking north on 6th St. NW. The witness immediately called 9-1-1 to report the crime.
As officers were responding to the area, 18 year-old Jamal Williams ( 3rd St NE, Winter Haven) and 18 year-old Ridge Thomas ( Buckeye Pointe Dr., Winter Haven) were seen along 6th St and wearing clothing that matched the description given by the witness. As officers made contact with the pair, they were found with burglary tools (a window punch and gloves) along with $107 cash.
The witness had observed the pair going through bags of items as they walked behind McDonalds and then back towards 6th St. NW. Items were dropped along the way as the pair continued on 6thSt. Officers retrieved multiple items along the path of where Williams and Thomas had been seen walking. Items that were located were numerous items in addition to those taken from the victim parked at McDonalds.
Officers did a canvas of the area and located three other vehicles in the parking lot of the Haven Condominiums directly next to McDonalds with shattered windows. Contact was made with two of the three owners of the vehicles and it was determined that the additional items found belonged to the additional victims at the Haven Condos.
Williams and Thomas were taken into custody and booked into the Polk County Jail on Possession of Burglary Tools (F3), Burglary of Unoccupied Vehicle (F3) and Petit Theft First Degree (M1).
“This is a classic example of how citizens can assist law enforcement in taking criminals off the street,” said Chief Charlie Bird.
“The fact that this witness not only observed and noted details of the suspects, but called to have officers respond was paramount in the apprehension of these burglars. In my mind, there is no doubt that this citizen helped prevent further crimes being committed by these two.”