HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Drugs, prostitution and assault. Court documents indicate the Red Roof Inn Tampa Brandon, on Horace Ave., has become a frequent problem spot for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
Now, some question why more isn't being done.
ABC Action News decided to take a closer look after seeing the address for the Red Roof Inn continue to pop up in search warrants. One of the most recent ones, from October, says, "This motel is known for having a high volume of illegal activity to include, narcotic sales and prostitution." Another search warrant from last month similarly reads, "The Red Roof Inn is a motel that is frequently involved in illegal activity, to include illegal narcotics, prostitution, and dealing in stolen property."
The HCSO received 202 calls for service to the address between Jan. 1 of this year and Oct. 24. Here's how those calls break down. Of those calls, 59 were generated from deputy-initiated activity. Meaning a deputy noticed something and called it in. Those calls resulted in 42 actual reports and of those, 14 were for Warrant Services.
Brian Beuman was forced to call the Red Roof Inn his home away from home after a home after a recent house fire.
“They’ve been really nice to us," Beuman said of the employees. "It’s just unfortunate that there’s bad people that ruin the good.”
Beauman says there have been several incidents when he and his wife feel they need to get to their room quickly, because of danger in the area.
But no one ever contacted a county board that has the ability to declare a property a public nuisance. An HCSO spokesperson said, "All of our information indicates it is a legitimate business and Red Roof Inn ownership and staff have no prior knowledge of guests’ prior criminal history."
ABC Action News learned the sheriff's office hasn't filed a petition with the Hillsborough County Nuisance Abatement board in six years. The last time was March 2012.
According to the board's website, "The Board hears cases involving property which houses prostitution, controlled substance activity, stolen property, and criminal gangs. It has the power to declare such properties a public nuisance, to enter orders prohibiting the maintenance of the nuisance, and assess fines up to $250 per day and up to $500 per day for recurring public nuisances, not to exceed $5,000."
The county contact for the board says they really haven't met in years, aside from a citizen complaint that came in for another property earlier this year. The reason being - petitions haven't come in. Aside from the sheriff's office, any citizen can file a petition.
"The HCSO regularly reviews these types of situations and each circumstance is unique. If appropriate, we move forward in filing such a petition," a spokesperson said.
"I’m kind of confused why it hasn’t already happened, why the county hasn't an already stepped in. And tried to fix a problem that is - we all see," Beauman said, referencing the nuisance abatement board.
Until a petition is filed, HCSO says it will continue to monitor the area.
"The HCSO recognizes that legitimate hotels and motels are sometimes used to facilitate criminal activities due to the transient nature of guests," a spokesperson said. " The HCSO has implemented regular hotel/motel details targeting such activity. Those details are often successful and net arrests for narcotics, prostitution, property crimes and warrants."
ABC Action News has worked to get in contact with the owner, leaving messages through his employees, to learn what steps they've taken to help improve safety. We have yet to hear back.