Coordinating Assets, Deputies Deal Blow to Burglars

Coordinating Assets, Deputies Deal Blow to Burglars

By Stephen Owsinski

It is always pure gold when all the moving parts in the law enforcement array of assets unite and thwart thieves.

On February 16, 2024, at roughly 3 a.m., a duo of deputies piloting one of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) helicopters served as the eye in the sky, calling out precise details (thanks to onboard geo technology) and leading road patrol deputies right to the flock of four sticky-fingered perpetrators operating a stolen car, getting out to pull on door handles of parked vehicles in residential driveways…while everyone was soundly asleep.

This is at the core of law enforcement PSAs recommending the “9 p.m. Routine”:

An HCSO spokesperson explained how it all came together, resulting in all parties arrested and transported to county jail:

The Aviation Unit was assisting patrol deputies “searching for four suspects seen on surveillance footage trying to enter a vehicle.

“With our aviation unit’s eyes in the sky, they observed the suspects trying to enter several other vehicles. The suspects attempted to flee in a white Jeep Compass, but when they saw our deputies on the ground, they abandoned the car and fled on foot.

“The Jeep was reported stolen, and deputies took all suspects that fled into custody.”

This is what it looked like from the Aviation deputies’ POV, and how well they coordinated law enforcement response to several burglars seeking to steal.

Behind the scenes are different yet crucial assets in law enforcement, often working in a non-sworn, civilian capacity.

In the case of anyone “trying” car door handles and hoping for an unlocked auto to enter and steal valuables from within, the potential for fingerprints is high. Hence, law enforcement agencies have “fingerprint examiners” or “crime scene technicians” to analyze prints after deputies or police officers submit possible matches “lifted” from crime scenes.

Not only does it tie them to the current case but may also link them to open (cold) cases that have fingerprint cards on file that may match, placing them at older crime scenes, essentially closing more criminal cases with charges brought forward against those identified by their uniqueness.

(Photo courtesy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.)

With these trained professional examiners declaring “positive” matches, print cards are sealed, marked as “Evidence,” and secured in custodial lockers until trial, whereupon the court dispositions the case. 

Per a HCSO spokesperson, “Mr. Simpson [pictured] has been part of Team HCSO for more than 30 years and can assure you that the science of fingerprints is a rewarding career!”

Fingerprint experts such as Mr. Simpson are subpoenaed along with deputies involved in criminal cases, the judges, and jurors hearing testimony from certified experts about conclusive fingerprint matches and the science and nomenclature defining elements (also taught to future LEOs during academy training).

As you can see, there are many components in law enforcement, each role imperatively solidifying investigations and buttoned-up criminal cases.

Youngsters engaged in auto crimes are age-old—certainly kept me busy on the midnight shift. Besides stealing cars for joyriding, auto burglaries by kids are more common. There’s a good reason for the police to remind/warn motorists to lock it up after parking it for the night (that 9 p.m. Routine referenced up top).

Balanced brains might be wondering Where are the parents of these kids? Valid question…

Lately, we have been reading about the seeming spate of juveniles armed with firearms shooting at people. Some were killed. Many others are recovering from injuries.

Take, for example, the recent Kansas City Chiefs Superbowl parade, where two juveniles opened fire on gobs of revelers dressed in red Chiefs jerseys. Shots rang out. Attendees fled in all directions…

Innocent bystanders near one of the two shooters tackled the kid as police officers closed in and took custody.

According to a report by Reuters, “Police said the 23 gunshot victims’ ages ranged in age from 8 to 47. Lisa Lopez-Galvan, 43, a popular local radio personality, was the lone fatality.” Wonder where the kids got the guns…

Incidentally, the Kansas City police force’s elected leaders, back in 2021, proposed a “defund the police measure amid skyrocketing crime.” KC cops raced toward the Super Bowl rally gunfire, surrounded by scrambling hordes of frightened spectators.

Among others just like it, this is yet another gander at how idiotic the “defund the police” movement was…is…and will always be.

Circling back to Tampa, Florida, we witness a portrayal of what citizens justly receive from duly funded public safety assets.

Deputies are wholly supported not only by state government (legislative bills expressly embracing and robustly funding law enforcement professionals) but also by officials comprising the county commissions and city councils whose members fund all public safety entities; hence the unified efforts, pertinent equipment, and sturdy staffing ensure crime-fighting successes at all hours of the night and day.

Understandably distracted by the four thieves bolting from the stolen car and scurrying like roaches, the deputy who confronted them astutely realized the culprits left the vehicle in Drive as they fled, resulting in the auto coasting toward a residential fence line. Wisely, that deputy used their cruiser to block the Jeep from demolishing the fence.

The sheriff’s office patrol fleet, as with most other Tampa Bay area police department vehicles, is equipped with rugged push bumpers designed for road-clearing of disabled vehicles. Moreover, the push bumpers are engineered as wraparounds that serve well for PIT maneuvers (saving the vehicle’s corners and quarter-panels from potential damage).

(Photo courtesy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.)

The front-end protection features are benefits of properly funded law enforcement organizations.

In Hillsborough County, it is common to view many posts whereby the sheriff’s office personnel explain how all assets come together to prevent crime and apprehend bad actors responsible for illicit behavior and targeted victimization.

Although it may have been part of this caper and not included in the footage, one of the typical ingredients in this kind of police operation is the deployment of canines to sniff out and (ahem) encourage perpetrators to make the wise decision to simply surrender.

The footage was brief…so there may have been a police dog involved somewhere in this incident…or on the way to the scene.

Illustrating the point, a similar coordinated operation by sheriff’s deputies involved road patrol units aided by certified police canines, all of whom were directed by Aviation Unit pilots situating aerially, calling out “hot spots,” culminating in the capture of five juveniles trespassing upon private properties at odd hours, seeking to break into cars in a residential subdivision.

Another example of the sheriff’s office road patrol deputies and canine units and Aviation deputies coordinating efforts and closing the net on burglars on the prowl involved one of the suspects fleeing into a retention pond behind a residential subdivision. Watch how it plays out, especially the police dog rocketing into action and helping this young man get out of the drink:

Speaking of residential subdivisions, another viable asset that is not certified law enforcement is the citizen who is keen to miscreants roaming the community at ungodly hours, in turn contacting the sheriff’s office (or local police agency) and reporting their sightings and suspicions. “See Something, Say Something,” right?

Cop or not, crime is thwarted when everyone does their part, and it all comes together for good by either preempting or nabbing the bad.

Seems timely and applicable to add a poetic reminder that the Winston-Salem Police Department staff recently posted: “Sleep soundly, with peace in sight. We’re on duty, guarding through the night.”