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Flagler Firefighter Among Targets of Car Thieves and Burglars in Palm Coast’s R and P’s

| May 2, 2016

car thefts palm coast

Joseph Clay Merritt’s Tahoe was stolen, along with his wife’s Taurus, from their P-Section home Sunday morning. (Facebook)

May 4 Update: Joseph Merritt’s Tahoe was located and recovered by Daytona Beach police on May 3.

Joseph Merritt is a lieutenant with Flagler County Fire Rescue. Sunday morning, he woke up at his Pitt Lane home in Palm Coast to discover that both his vehicle and that of his wife had been stolen from his driveway. It was the first in a series of car thefts and car burglaries that would keep Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies busy for the next 36 hours, mostly in the R Section. In all, four vehicles were stolen and one reported, and many more were broken into.

Most of the cars broken into had been left unlocked.

In Merritt’s case, he has video, which you can see here or below. The video documents the thefts of both cars around 5:15 a.m., showing a shirtless, skinny man in his early 20s, wearing white shorts, opening the driver’s side door of  a 2013 Ford Taurus (with a Florida tag # of HQA1P), without trouble, spending several seconds inside, grabbing something then quietly closing the door before getting into the black 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe at the same address (Florida tag # YF3ZQ) and driving off with it. Seven minutes later, the thieves return, and this time a shirtless, somewhat more heavyset man, also shirtless and wearing pats–he is black, with dreadlocks–gets in the Taurus and drives off from the 35 Pitt Lane address.

The Tahoe has a firetruck mural on rear window, an IAFF Local 4337 license plate on the front, and “smoke showing” in red lettering along the sun visor (see the picture above). The Tahoe had a firearm inside when it was stolen, a 9mm Kel-Tec in a canvas ankle holster, a briefcase with various documents and personal items, and photography equipment valued at $7,000. Credit cards last see in the Tahoe have been used at Wal-Mart and Target in Daytona Beach.

(A sheriff’s office news release disseminated in other media incorrectly referred to the twin vehicle theft as taking place in the R Section.)

By Monday morning, the sheriff’s office had been inundated with reports of burglaries and car thefts from the R and P Sections. As detailed in the overnight commander’s report, baseball equipment was stolen from a car left unlocked at 36 Russman Lane, a car was broken into at 24 Pinelynn Lane, a resident at 42 Ryder Drive saw an individual try to break into a car there by pulling on the car handle, an unlocked car at 113 Pheasant Drive was broken into. A vehicle at 40 Pitt Lane, not far from Merritt’s home, was also burglarized. A coffee maker was stolen from a vehicle at 38 Russo Drive.

At 19 Rymen Lane, a truck was stolen from the home and driven down the block, hit something and was left abandoned. It was recovered by deputies. At 1 Rymen Lane, a 2007 black Mazda CX9 was stolen from the driveway and is still missing. Its tag is Florida 075-XCK. [Update: The Daytona Beach Police Department recovered the Mazda on May 2.]

Three vehicles were burglarized at 42 Riddle Drive, and the faceplates of two radios were stolen. A cell phone was stolen from a car at 5 Round Thorn Lane. A GPS unit, tool box and Jumper cables were taken from a car at 18 Riptide Place. At 25 Pittson, a wallet and credit cards were stolen.

Anyone with information concerning these crimes, or any crime in Flagler County, are asked to call the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office at 386-313-4911. Callers can also remain anonymous by contacting Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-8477 (TIPS). You may receive a reward of up to $1,000.

The sheriff’s office strongly recommends a few common-sense precautions: Remove all valuables from the interior of your vehicle. Cameras, computers, purses, wallets, firearms, and other electronics should be locked in the trunk or secured out of sight. Always lock your vehicle and activate the alarm, if installed. Most of the burglaries affected unlocked cars. Park in well-lit areas when possible.

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32 Responses for “Flagler Firefighter Among Targets of Car Thieves and Burglars in Palm Coast’s R and P’s”

  1. Veteran says:

    Did my research prior to buying a lot years ago. Did not buy in P or R section.

  2. The Geode says:

    Another gun on the streets. THANKS RESPONSIBLE GUN OWNER!

  3. wow really says:

    You can’t go work out because when you leave your car in the parking lot of the gym it get’s broken into you can’t leave you car at the trail when you go for a walk or a jog and NOW you can’t even leave your own vehicle in your own driveway. This is so CRAZY. Why ARE THEY GETTING AWAY WITH THIS.

  4. anonymous says:

    I can’t believe how much crime going on since i moved here in 2013. I do live in r section and seriously thinking about getting out of this area. I fortunately parkmy car in garage and pad lock it up every night. I have 4 locks on back door because of a prior attempted break in. Im putting another dead bolt on front door. I haven’t had any incident happened in immediate street or surrounding areas except the one incident with back door.

  5. Retired law enforcement says:

    This is the only place I ever heard of where people leave GUNS, MONEY, CREDIT CARDS overnight in their vehicles which as usual get robbed. I myself have been leaving my PICASSO ANS REMBRANT paintings in my back seat right next to the pile of neatly stacked 100 dollar no sequential bills. I was thinking about next week keeping my cache of flawless diamonds on the dashboard but with the rash of car thefts occurring in Palm Coast I decided against it because I usually leave my car wide open with the keys in the ignition.

  6. blondee says:

    Did my research too. Move all your crap out of your garage and park your car inside.

  7. ANN CRAWFORD says:


  8. Geezer says:

    If you have a garage, use it to “house” your car(s) when not being
    used. Never leave guns or any valuables in your car.

    If you have a nice vehicle, you can be sure that car thieves have taken
    a moment already to admire your “baby” and have considered
    stealing it. Even an old Toyota is in high demand just for for parts.

    Don’t put Apple, NRA or Stereo System stickers on your car, declaring
    your love of high wattage road-tunes, tech and firearms. “D’uh, maybe
    there’s a gun in the glovebox. Bro, there’s gotta be a tablet in that Chevy.”

    You’re not in Kansas anymore–you’re in Palm Coast: remember that.
    Always be low profile. (that’s tough for some)

  9. anonymous says:

    Pls every one park in garage.

  10. Cyd Weeks says:

    There is no more danger of this happening in the P’s and the R’s then there is in any other neighborhood. Do you forget all the thefts that happened in grand haven and Sea Colony? Those are gated for heaven sakes. Not too long ago there was a rash of car nonsense going on in the Z section, then they moved to the S section and the B section has crap going on all the time. Thieves don’t care what section you are in…they pick a spot, case it, make a plan and go to it. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out they don’t live in Palm Coast.

    And thank you Retired Law Enforcement for the morning laugh. :)

  11. Geezer says:

    One more thing: (a Columbo moment)

    I’ll bet that at least one of the thieves worked at an auto dealership
    at some point, or may have been repo-man in the past. (or still is apparently)

    Some dealer-specific tools were used here, such as a master ignition
    key. There’s always the possibility that an illegal frequency scanner
    was used at an earlier time to “crack” the frequency of the manufacturer’s
    built-in immobilizer and door unlock feature.

    I think that the doors on the car were opened remotely with a cloned
    remote transmitter.

    Happy motoring.

  12. Halogen says:

    Unfortunately it seems that the people this happened to and a lot of other people do not watch the news,this is an on going problem folks leave doors unlocked valuables in plain site,AND GUNS LEFT IN YOUR VEHICLE.
    Wake up folks.

  13. Doyle Lewis says:

    My mom always took my friends things so I would have no friends!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Bc. says:

    I am a gun owner cwp holder and I NEVER LEAVE MY GUN IN THE CAR!!! If one leaves the gun unattended and it get stolen they should be held responsible for anything the happens bad with that gun. When you go in the gun goes in

  15. theevoice says:

    and now the crooks can go buy all the pot and crack they want..sure glad everyone wants to legalize pot!! by the way are the pot stores going to let you buy on credit like a dealer will??!!! not to mention the dealers will sell their wares for a lower price to keep their if you think the dealers will be hurt by legalizing pot , you are DEAD WRONG!!

  16. theevoice says:

    here is a thought..park IN the garage NOT on the driveway!!

  17. Carol Fisher says:

    So the homeowner is concerned about crime enough to have security cameras, but not concerned enough to LOCK his CAR??? Or to leave a weapon in it?? Something here just doesn’t make sense!! I will never understand why people won’t LOCK the car!!!

  18. shell shocked says:

    Wow! I seriously can’t believe someone would be foolish enough to leave a gun in their vehicle let alone valuables!!! I’m speechless about that one. As far as this community goes,Wow! I guess we should have done more research! So much for a “nice quiet retirement community”!!! Took the CCP permit class after learning how much crime there is around here! Ready to lock and load!

    No worries, I grew up and lived in some of the toughest cities in the country LA, Oakland, CA, San Fran, Newark NJ, NYC, Syracuse so it’s nothing new. Only difference now is that we’re armed. My wife packs a .45 auto and I like my .12 gauge pump as much as my .357 magnum. To all the crooks out there; we keep them loaded 5 days and nights a week. You just have to guess which ones!

    My Dad is a retired state trooper so news of illegal activities are nothing new to me. These carjacking guys are slick however and the person who said they are using high tech tools is right. They are probably part of a roving band of criminals who use 95 as a hub trail of opportunity and hit and run robbery sprees taking little risk as possible. The idiots who are doing the B&E’s are more than likely locals looking for a quick score for their habit support or a quick thrill. When someone shoots them upon illegal entry, maybe they will think again?

    I just want to thank the Florida law makers for making it LEGAL for us to protect and arm ourselves and to obtain a CCP as well!!! Everyone else keep your eyes open and look out for suspicious people and activities in your neighborhood! if you see something, Say something! Better safe than sorry I always say. I’ve been saying for years that when the economy goes down the toilet, more people will turn into criminals will take up new livelihoods such as robbery and drugs as there aren’t any other jobs to be had! Vote for someone who will make some Real changes for once!!!

  19. JoJo says:

    Listen here you bunch of pansies, (commenters) that is. It doesn’t make a difference if your car is locked or unlocked. If someone wants your stuff, they will simply find a way to get it. Shit happens and th only thing you can do is try not to leave anything you consider valuable in the car over night. Especially for us folks that do not have a garage like most of you dildos keep on saying, “park in the garage” wah wah wah.. It can happen to anyone, day or night. Thieves will be thieves and it doesn’t matter where you live. So deal with it. And I speak from experience. I’ve had my car broken into before, cops got prints and other evidence from my car and guess what, nothing happened. They didn’t give a shit and neither did I cause I filed a claim with my insurance company and got reimbursed. End of story.

  20. ANN CRAWFORD says:


  21. Oldseadog says:

    ONLY here in Palm Coast!

    Garage: A building or indoor space in which to park or keep a motor vehicle, but rarely used for such.

    Car: An outside mobile storage vault to leave unlocked with ones valuables inside.

  22. Lt. Dan says:

    Ah, the guy does not need a CCP to keep his weapon in the vehicle. But I must say, leaving it in there outside at night is really DUMB !!!

  23. Veteran says:

    Cyd Weeks, read the news. Most crime happens in R, P, S or Z and part of B sections. Don’t hear about many in E, W or C sections. So it does make a difference.

  24. anonymous says:

    This is turning out to be living in a big city. Its supposed to be this quiet retiree and place to raise a family. Im really considering to sell and go back up north.

  25. Geezer says:

    And yet another thing:

    “Out there” there’s a scanner/transmitter combo that a crook can aim at your
    garage door while this gadget sends hundreds of different signal combinations
    to determine what radio frequency your garage door opener uses.

    When your door goes up, he makes a note of the signal, and saves it for later
    use. Most homeowners will assume that they left their garage door open,
    sat on the remote, or they assume maybe it’s a “bug” in the unit. A month goes
    by and all is forgotten by the homeowner.

    The thief bides his time (waits a month or so) and waits until you drive off.
    When the coast is clear, your garage door goes up again and he parks in your garage!
    He then makes his way into your main dwelling (probably armed) and trousers your
    cash and jewlery. Since he’s in the garage, he can carry out larger items at will.
    Lock the interior door that goes into the garage with a double-keyed deadbolt.
    Forget locking doorknobs.

    I used to disable my garage door opener unit before I went to bed. It had its own circuit
    breaker which I toggled on and off as required.

    Get a monitored home alarm with battery backup and cellular communications capability.
    This way when they cut the power or phone line, your alarm will work and ruin the
    creep’s day or evening. Be sure to alarm the garage door.

    Better safety is slightly inconvenient but worth it.


    Another tip, especially for ladies home alone at bedtime:

    Keep your car key fobs on the night table so that you can use the panic function if
    you hear someone fiddling with your door locks at night. The noise from the car alarm
    will spook most of these bums.

    I hope that these tips help you.

  26. Hammock says:

    Maybe some day people will finally understand that police rarely prevent crime. Just respond to it.

  27. Jim says:

    Hey Hammock… Don’t blame the deputies!!! it’s pretty tough to cover 660 square miles w/ only 12-15 deputies a shift!!! you want more…you got to pay for it…and nobody want to do that!!!

  28. mike says:

    yea rite…… don’t blame deputies?????? what a cop out . do your job!!!! life is tough! if I don’t do my job I get fired . fcso is a joke bottom line.

  29. Gman says:

    Try locking your cars and stop leaving keys in them. That’s the joke!

  30. Question says:

    If fcso is such a joke maybe you “Palm coasters” should just rely on your city police… You’re right, thats a joke also!

  31. anonymous says:

    I honestly hate palm coast. It was nice in 2013. I dont know what happened? Im bewildered! They let rapists run free because it takes months to years to getcrape kit back. In the meantime probably terroizing other women.

  32. Geezer says:

    You need cops with ESP.
    Gotta go – I’m getting a premonition.

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