A 30-year-old Summerfield, Florida man was arrested by detectives from three law enforcement agencies last month for his alleged connection in a string of home burglaries.

Police have accused the man as the ringleader of a three-man group that stole thousands of dollars’ worth of items in Orange Blossom Hills, Belleview and The Villages in Marion County, and also in the town of Wildwood and other locations in Sumter County, from Oct. 1, 2011, through Jan. 14, 2012.

In the Marion County cases, detectives estimate that close to $21,000 worth of goods and jewelry were reported stolen from various homes. With the man’s arrest, the police were able to apparently close 10 burglary cases.

The detectives apparently interviewed the alleged getaway driver who supposedly provided them with information pertinent to the break-ins.

That man, who has not been arrested as of yet, claims the men hit houses that had open garage doors and no signs of a vehicle inside.

Personnel with the different law enforcement agencies are apparently talking with this same man as the investigation lingers on.

The law enforcement agencies that joined forces in the investigation allegedly learned that the stolen items, jewelry in particular, were sold, traded, melted or disposed of by other means, and that the cash was used to support drug habits of those involved.

Detectives apparently took the man arrested to the MCSO district office in The Villages when he was first brought in for questioning. According to reports, he denied committing any burglaries.

He was then arrested and transported to the Marion County Jail.

In the State of Florida, burglary is considered a violent crime even in cases that involve the break-in of an empty house. Burglary of an Unoccupied Residence is classified as a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. This offense entails the unlawful entry into unoccupied homes with the intent to commit a crime once inside. The intended crime does not have to be theft-related to be charged as burglary. In fact, vandalizing the property or any other type of criminal mischief can be charged as burglary. Entering a property or home without committing a crime of theft or vandalism is considered trespassing.

Being under investigation for or charged with burglary can be a life-altering situation. Burglary is a complex area of law that is aggressively prosecuted throughout the state of Florida. There are a variety of defenses that can attack a burglary charge, including:

  • Lack of intent to commit a crime
  • Owner’s consent to take the item
  • Accused believed the item belonged to them
  • Accused falsely arrested for the crime

Just like everyone else, police officers and State prosecutors can make errors. Don’t let a mistake threaten your freedom and future. The Villages Burglary Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can review your case and identify possible defenses to get wrongful burglary charges dropped immediately.

Unfortunately, having a prior criminal record can increase the consequences associated with a burglary conviction. In addition to incarceration and fines, a person convicted of burglary may be ordered to pay restitution to the victim for the value of the property. The end result can be a criminal record with devastating life-long penalties.

If you have been arrested for burglary in The Villages or any surrounding communities, contact The Villages Theft Defense Attorneys at the Law Offices of Whittel & Melton, LLC online or call 352-369-5334.