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Thieves Break Into Tax Collector’s Office in Staples Shopping Center and Get Away

| January 19, 2019

The suspects' vehicle as captured by a store's surveillance camera. (FCSO)

The suspects’ vehicle as captured by a store’s surveillance camera. (FCSO)

Last Updated: Sunday, 1:26 p.m.

Two thieves broke into the Flagler County Tax Collector’s satellite office in the Staples shopping center off Old Kings Road just after 3 this morning.


The thieves knew exactly what they were looking for, Tax Collector Suzanne Johnston said: they smashed their way in with a hammer, headed straight for the computer and printer tied to driver’s licenses, pried the $4,000 printer off its bolts, and walked out with the equipment, getting away in a white SUV captured on one of the businesses’ surveillance cameras.  The computer is valued at $400. “They went directly to that desk and directly back out, it was just super quick,” Johnston said. 

Speaking of the incident Sunday morning, Johnston and her director of motorist services said no databases were stolen, as all those are on state computers.

Tax collector’s staffers contacted the state to make it aware of the incident later this morning, according to a Flagler County Sheriff’s spokesperson.

The sheriff’s office was alerted to the burglary at 5:17 a.m. when someone from Planet Fitness–one of the businesses in the shopping center–called in to describe the front door of the Tax Collector’s storefront open and its glass shattered. The facility’s emergency lights were on inside.

Deputies got to the scene, checked the facility and notified detectives as well as Johnston and one of her staffers. (Johnston had been at the local hospital all night, at her mother’s bedside after her mother had fallen.)

The thieves may have wanted to forge driver’s licenses, but the card themselves carry all the security features and are kept in the office’s safe, which was not breached, Johnston said.

The office will be open Tuesday, but driver’s license services may not be available right away as the state will have to install new equipment.

A similar burglary took place at a tax collector’s office in Miami a few months ago.

Detectives checked several shopping center businesses’ video surveillance footage and released the blurry image of a white SUV in mid-afternoon, believed to be the thieves’ getaway vehicle. Surveillance footage shows one of the suspects breaking the glass and opening the door from within. “It appears that maybe a computer was taken,” the spokesperson said of footage gleaned from nearby Bealls. The detectives are seeking further footage.

The 1,200-square-foot facility is one of two satellite facilities for the tax collector, whose main office is in the Government Services Building in Bunnell. The other satellite facility is in the Badcock shopping center in Flagler Beach, where concealed weapons permits are accommodated. The office in the Staples center is slated to move to a more permanent location at the west end of Palm Coast Parkway, in the old Sears store, which the county agreed to acquire last year. (The transaction has not yet closed, and Johnston said today that she thinks the sheriff’s office should have priority regarding any acquisitions of new space.)

“Even though the incident occurred in the early morning hours, it is possible that someone saw something,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “We’re asking the community to come forward with any information that might help. Our team is working hard to locate these criminals.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the FCSO at 386-313-4911 and mention Case Number 2019-5713 or send an email to TIPS@flaglersheriff.com. To remain anonymous, contact CrimeStoppers at 1-888-277-TIPS. You may be eligible for a reward up to $5,000.00.

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18 Responses for “Thieves Break Into Tax Collector’s Office in Staples Shopping Center and Get Away”

  1. Diane says:

    Hmm….. does this mean since they stole the computers that personal info is at risk ?

  2. ASF says:

    “Thieves” getting away with computers (and their files) from the tax collector’s office? That’s pretty bold and one wonders what they were really after.

  3. john dolan esq. says:

    Kay jewelers now the tax office. Looks like the shire of the rife needs a new taskforce on this new crop of dirtbags.

  4. Jim says:

    When did Sears close? It’s been there forever

  5. atilla says:

    No alarm system??? An office with that amount of personal information is inexcusable not to have an alarm system.

  6. BMW says:

    Are you suggesting that whom ever is in charge of the Tax Collector’s office is so inept they do not have intrusion systems and motion detectors guarding our personal information and state license tags? This story has to be a wake up call…..

  7. Roy says:

    Do sheriffs patrol Palm Coast at night?

  8. Percy's mother says:

    One would have thought (and expected) some security measures having been instituted by a government office that’s housed in a storefront second-rate, old, rundown shopping center. No alarm? No on-site security cameras in that storefront office?

    Who wasn’t thinking in the government hierarchy? Who’s responsible for the lack of security measures in an office which houses taxpayer information?

    Who would have known there is NO security of any kind?

  9. Just curious who your source is! says:

    I’m really curious to know where you got the information to post about the “ old sears store “. Where are the facts?! Flagler live is so quick to assume, without FACTS.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Just curious, we don’t assume. Our commenters do a fine enough job of that on their own. We report. The County Commission agreed to buy the old Sears store for the Tax Collector at its Nov. 19 meeting, for $1.25 million. The transaction is pending. See the link to the documentation here and in the body of the article above.

  10. Cybercrimes says:

    Weird,…..I pay all this money in taxes, yet the tax office doesn’t have an alarm.

  11. It's just me. says:

    No alarm system? It seems to me that 3 offices are just a waste of taxpayers money.

  12. Agkistrodon says:

    ADT, has Alarm service, so does MANY other outfits. So exactly what is the Excuse that this county office had no System. And if you think the thieves were looking for computer equipment, I have a a parcel of land 25 miles offshore of Flagler for sale…………..

  13. Concerned Citizen says:

    I find it inexcusable that our Tax Collector doesn’t go to greater lengths to safeguard our information.

    Hopefully there will be some accountability over this issue. Our government employees in Flagler County are getting away with a lot recently.

  14. Richard says:

    I hope that the person who stole the computer will pay my real estate tax bill for me! HaHa Lot’s of luck…..

  15. The original woody says:

    Planet Fitness on patrol 24-7

  16. ConstantlyAmazed says:

    A few things in this is a little strange.

    1. No alarm ( either installed or set ) at a local governmental office.

    2. A similar burglary at another tax collectors office in Miami a few months ago. Wast there a statewide alarm issued by the FDLE regarding “targeted burglaries ?

    3 The burglary occurred around 3 a.m. but the Sheriffs office was not notified until 5:17 a.m. , considering it’s a governmental office housing “confidential” data was there any security inspections conducted by the Sheriffs Office patrol units ? And if not why ?

    4. What can these computers which were specificly targeted in 2 (maybe more) burglaries access ?

    This sounds like there is something big happening. Sounds to me this isn’t just a “ smash and grab “ burglary and shouldn’t be treated as one.

  17. mark101 says:

    Tax Collector Suzanne Johnston, you need to install an alarm.

    @ Roy “Do sheriffs patrol Palm Coast at night?” yep they do. But how long does a patrol car resides waiting for something to happen. Maybe Palmy Coasty needs to install their own local police force, which means increase in taxes for locals of Palm Coast. Just a catch 22, Ya can;t please everyone.

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