Ybor and Tampa Heights neighbors say they're seeing more thefts

Posted at 6:17 PM, Mar 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-31 18:17:05-04

People living in Ybor City and Tampa Heights say they are seeing a rash of thefts, but Tampa Police are not backing up their claims.

One V.M. Ybor woman said thieves hit her house five times in just two weeks.

Niki Cannyn said her neighbors first noticed their mother-in-law home had been broken into. Then, another neighbor found a man leaving the mother-in-law home, stealing clothes. That same day, another neighbor saw a person they believed was homeless stealing tools during daylight hours.

Then, two more incidents for Cannyn, when her husband came face to face with a stranger stealing mail off their porch.

"He took outbound letters from our mailbox and tried our door," she said. "This is the man my husband confronted, from a safe distance. Then, at five am that night I heard banging in my backyard and our shed had been broken into again."

She said she couldn't believe it.

"We felt targeted," Cannyn said. "I mean, who gets burglarized three times in a matter of 24 hours?"

This comes as Josie Nabti, a resident of V.M. Ybor, found someone was on her porch just a few doors down.

"That's really scary because I do have motion lights on my porch and somebody came on and stayed on," she said.

Michael Nolan, who also lives in the area, said he's been dealing with people stealing his mail and has had his car ransacked several times. He's also come head to head with a stranger on his porch.

"I heard him outside shuffling my front mat," Nolan said. "It looked like he was trying to lay down to sleep. When I confronted him outside, he was obviously either on drugs or intoxicated."

A Tampa Heights woman also sent home surveillance video to ABC Action News, showing her confronting a stranger stealing items from her yard. The video shows her on the phone with 911.

Now, some of the residents in these areas are working to decommission the alleyways behind their homes. These used to be used for business, neighbors said, but now, can help allow for crimes of opportunity.

"Now, they're really good ways for criminals to lurk," Cannyn said. "I know on my street, there have been thieves that have broken into fences from the alley way."

Tampa Police said despite the neighbors reports, they have not seen an uptick in burglaries in the Ybor City area. However, these residents disagree.

"When you're talking about residents here, we've seen an uptick in this and they need to just be realistic and just see that we're the boots on the ground here," Nolan said.

The group of residents who spoke with ABC Action News said they feel community policing efforts have been great in the core of Ybor City, however, they say they want more police outreach in their specific neighborhoods, like V.M. Ybor and Ybor Heights.

Tampa Police told ABC Action News by phone they see many residents posting on social media about crimes like these, but not filing police reports. They say filing a report is critical, as well as attending the community outreach events they host and also attending and participating in neighborhood watch.  

Many of the residents we spoke with say they've been consistently calling police, and intend to work more alongside officers to report crimes in their neighborhoods.

However, they say the incidents they've been dealing with will not drive them from the neighborhood they say they chose for many reasons -- including its proximity to Downtown Tampa, as well as the arts, culture and beauty of these communities.

"The historical signifcance of this area," one Ybor Heights woman said, who is renovating a historic bungalow home. "These homes are beautiful."

They say they are here to stay, no matter what.  

"We're playing the long game here," Nolan said.