Tampa Police Investigating Brazen Group of Auto Theft Suspects

03/28/16
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Tampa Police Investigating Brazen Group of Auto Theft Suspects
Detectives asking car lot owners to take extra safety precautions

Video of the suspects inside the business and the car lot can be viewed on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/O_7cMI4jAww


Incident Date: 3/25/2016 at 4:07 p.m.
Location: 6828 Florida Ave N

Business Name: Prespa Auto Sales, 6828 North Florida Avenue


Suspect Info: Approximately 10 suspects


Vehicle Info: N/A

Details: 

The Tampa Police Department is asking car dealers to beware of a group of suspects who are burglarizing and stealing cars.  On March 25, 2016, approximately 10 suspects arrived at the Prespa car lot on Florida Avenue in a mini-van that was stolen out of the Orlando area.  Surveillance video from the business shows  one of the suspects smashing the front window of the main building.  The suspect removed the window pane and entered the building with another suspect.  While inside the office, one of the suspects  located a  box containing all the keys for the vehicles on the lot.  The second suspect rummaged through additional drawers and ultimately left with a trash can, which was later used to dump and sift through all the stolen vehicle keys.  Both suspects exited the office and walked out to the lot where at least eight other suspects were waiting. The suspects, who are believed to be juvenile males,  started preparing vehicles to drive them off the lot.  During this time, the original Honda Odyssey, which brought most of the suspects there, is seen circling the block waiting for the right time to ram the gate to the dealership.  Once all suspects are each in their own stolen vehicle and they have the vehicles lined up to exit the gate, the stolen mini-van rammed the gate allowing all the suspects to flee the scene with eight stolen vehicles.  Seven vehicles fled eastbound, while one fled westbound out of the dealership.

At least two additional vehicles were moved within the lot but not taken.  One vehicle was left running and another one crashed into a separate second building at the same dealership.  The suspects damaged 14 other vehicles as they fled from the lot.   

So far, two of the eight vehicles have been recovered.  A 2012 white Dodge Ram was recovered and processed by Pasco County SO, and a 2005 BMW Model X3 was involved in a single vehicle crash and recovered by FHP as an abandoned vehicle near mile marker #7 on I-4.

Based on information gathered during the investigation, the suspects maybe linked to a crime group based out of  the Orlando area.  The Tampa Police Department is in contact with investigators in the Orlando who are assisting with this active investigation.

Detectives believe the group may try to continue their crime spree in the Tampa area.  The Tampa Police Department is asking car lot businesses to be vigilant of suspicious activity and to take the following precautions to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim:


        Increase lighting on the lots

        Lock all car doors

        Put the extra keys in a safe or take them off of the property

        Reinforce fencing and/or use barriers to block entrances and exits during non-business hours

        During normal business hours do not let customers see where the keys are kept

        Alarm the businesses (monitored and audible)

        Use surveillance cameras

Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward of up to $3,000  for information that leads to the identification and arrest 
of the  suspects in this case.  Anyone withany information regarding this case and who wants to be eligible for a cash reward is 
asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), report anonymously online at www.crimestopperstb.com or send 
a mobile tip using our P3 Tips mobile application, which is a free download for iPhones, iPads, and Droids.

Janelle McGregor
TPD PIO