Palm Coast was struck this week by a renewed rash of car break-ins and vehicle thefts. Most—but not all–of the break-ins affected vehicles left unlocked.
Some of the break-ins could not be properly investigated because the vehicle owners had disturbed the vehicles before the arrival of police. None of the break-ins yielded any arrests.
On Monday, Matthew Benton, a resident of 6 Sled Court in Palm Coast, went fishing early in the morning and returned in mid-afternoon. He was tired, so he took a nap. He left three fishing rods and a canvas tackle box in the front passenger seat area of his Ford truck, and left the truck unlocked. When he woke up, the fishing rods and tackle box, valued at $470, were gone. Police spoke with Benton’s next-door neighbors, who had left an unlocked car with a purse and a GPS in the car, but nothing was touched.
That turned out to be wrong. Later that day, John Dunphy, the next-door neighbor at 4 Sled Court, called police to say he hadn’t realized something was amiss until he saw the door to his vehicle slightly ajar, and discovered that a cell phone valued at $300 was missing out of the 2014 Toyota Corolla. The cell phone had been left on top of the center console, in plain view, though no other items were taken from within the vehicle.
Sometime between Aug. 8 and 9, a 2006 white Toyota Highlander with Florida tags, valued at $15,000, was stolen from the driveway at 14 Zither Court. The vehicle has several stickers on the back window, including one of four dogs, of Hawaii, of Tinkerbell. The 78-year-old owner of car told police she thought the car was unlocked, and the keys were inside the vehicle, in the center console.
Sometime between Monday and Tuesday, eight metal road work sign stands valued at $125 each were removed from the bed an Atlantic Traffic Solutions Ford truck in the driveway at 1 Seaton Valley Path in Palm Coast. Thomas Dimarisco, the 57-year-old resident and driver of the truck, told police he realized the items were missing when he got to work in Jacksonville early Tuesday morning. The deputy investigating the case noted in the incident report: “I was unable to process Thomas’ truck for evidence due to the vehicle being used all day at work by Thomas and other employees, compromising the integrity of the scene. Also, any property that was touched by the unknown suspect(s) was taken with them.”
Tuesday morning, Wayne Elliot Jr., a 34-year-old resident at 14 Kaufman Place in Palm Coast, reported that someone smashed the front driver’s side window to his Chevy truck and stole his wallet, which contained $50, a $60 Home Deport gift card and other various credit cards, while the wallet itself was valued at $30.
That same morning, Heather Davilla and Jason Kates, the residents at nearby 7 Kaufman Place, also reported that both their vehicles were burglarized, a Nissan SUV and a a Ford F-150. Nothing was reported missing from the Nissan but it was ransacked, and the wallet, which had been left in the center console, was looked through but not taken. On the other hand, Kates reported that $700 was taken from the Ford. The money was left in the center console of the vehicle. Kates told police, according to the incident report, “that he also keeps his personal firearm in the vehicle and was surprised that the unknown suspects did not take his pistol.”
The sheriff’s office reported last week that 37 guns were stolen from mostly unlocked vehicles since the beginning of 2014.
The same incident report notes that the investigating deputy interviewed neighbors, one of whom appeared “unconcerned,” yet nervous. The report states there was no sufficient evidence to label either individuals as suspects.
On Tuesday at Bealls on Palm Coast Parkway, Kelly Lynn, a 29-year-old resident of Lake Disston Drive, reported to police that sometime between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. someone broke into her unlocked grey 2013 Hyundai Elantra and stole $250 in cash from the open compartment area located under the radio. Lynn had been there to shop and drop off her child at an activity nearby. Bealls has a security system. But “asset protection was not working at this time,” the incident report states, which may mean that either the personnel responsible for the surveillance system was not working, or that the system itself was not. Lynn said she has tried to acquire what surveillance footage there is from the store but the store managers have not been cooperative.
“The vehicle was not processed for evidence due to the following,” the incident report states: “a total of four people were occupying the vehicle prior to the incident and all were not on scene, unknown location of entry, unknown what was touched in the vehicle and the vehicle was moved from different locations prior to my arrival.”
Still on Tuesday, Gerald Ruling, the 37-year-old resident at 4 Cimarron Drive in Palm Coast and the owner of One Tuff Mudder, the Jeep dealership in St. Augustine, reported to police that someone stole a light blue 2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited from his driveway overnight. The truck is valued at $22,000. The truck was left unlocked. Ruling told police that the evening before he’d been involved in a verbal altercation with an employee at Finn’s in Flagler Beach, and during the argument gave out his home address “to boast about himself,” the incident report states, though the employee did not say anything about going to that address.
One positive discovery: a Ford that had been reported stolen days earlier was recovered in a wooded lot off Wood Aspen Lane on Aug. 10 when a resident, who’d seen a posting about the stolen truck on Swip-Swap, said he was heading to the lake on the property to swim noticed the blue pickup parked there. The vehicle was processed for DNA.