PINELLAS PARK, Fla - Pinellas County Sheriff's detectives said Tuesday that someone broke into an unmarked law enforcement vehicle earlier this month and stole guns, ammunition, a bulletproof vest with identifying sheriff's marks and the deputy's badge.
The burglary occurred near 80th Avenue North and 41st Street North in Pinellas Park between 5:00 p.m. on March 11 and 7:00 a.m. on March 12.
Detectives say the suspect burglarized the unmarked vehicle by gaining access to the trunk.
Among the items stolen are a Rock River Arms Rifle with magazines, a Glock-model pistol with Blackhawk paddle holster and drop-down leg holster as well as a black vest with "Sheriff" on the front and back in white letters.
The contents of the vest were also stolen, including Glock-model magazines, a tactical flashlight, a Bench Mark knife, a set of Smith and Wesson handcuffs and a radio holder. In addition, a black nylon duty belt with handcuff case, expandable baton and holder and a magazine pouch were taken.
The suspect also stole a black tri-fold leather wallet with a silver Sheriff's star badge and two agency credentials.
Will Robertson who lives in area wants to know why it took detectives two weeks to publicize the crime seeing that this suspect has all the tools one would need to impersonate an officer.
"It certainly is a concern but at this point in time we decided to come forward is because detectives had exhausted the leads," said Cecilia Barreda, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokesperson.
Under department police, deputies are allowed to store the gear and guns in the trunks of their cars, either marked or unmarked. Barreda said there are special locking devices in the trunks to prevent thefts. The department's policy is now under review.
Robertson told ABC Action News there have been a string of recent car break-ins in the neighborhood and one house burglary where the thieves kicked in the front door in broad daylight.
"We've been broken in multiple times. Forgot to lock the car one night and there was someone sleeping in the car," Robertson explained.
Robertson said he now keeps a knife and gun near his front door for protection given all the crime in the area.
In a similar yet unconnected case, a St. Pete police officer's car was stolen and later found dumped in a Lake Maggiore. In that case, ammo and guns were also stolen. The St. Pete officer's car was unmarked.
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