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Photo courtesy of Orange County Sheriff's Office - Leon Laben Smith was one of three suspects arrested last month for allegedly burglarizing cars in Orwin Manor.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017 1 year ago

Winter Park suffers spike of car burglaries in January

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Burglary numbers rise
by: Tim Freed Associate Editor

Winter Park’s car burglary woes continue, but local police aren’t backing down.

Officers arrested 18-year-old Leon Laben Smith and two additional suspects in the early hours of Jan. 25 after they received a call from a resident reporting a car burglary along Westchester Avenue in Orwin Manor.

A Winter Park resident contacted police at around 2 a.m. after she found her car was broken into – the driver’s side window smashed and a pink backpack stolen holding $350 worth of valuables.

Police reports noted that two other cars were burglarized nearby as well, though the vehicles appeared to be unlocked.

The burglary victim told police that she saw three young black males walking away from the scene, heading northbound on Pelham Road.

Police approached the three males along Canterbury Avenue, causing one of the three suspects to run away heading southbound down the street. Officers quickly apprehended the two other suspects and used a K-9 unit to track down the third.

The third suspect was found lying down behind a large planter in a fenced back yard, and a pair of gloves and a loaded firearm were recovered nearby.

Broken glass was found in the shoes of two of the three suspects, and one suspect was in possession of a Swiss Tech window puncher, according to the police report.

The Winter Park/Maitland Observer is not publishing the names of the two additional suspects, as they are both juveniles. The three suspects all face charges of burglary and larceny, while one suspect faces an additional criminal mischief charge and another has been charged with possession of burglary tools with intent to use.

The stolen items were recovered along Westchester Avenue.

Lt. Pam Marcum of the Winter Park Police Department told the Observer that car burglaries are on the rise in Winter Park. Statistics from the Winter Park Police Department shows that last month’s rash of car burglaries in Orwin Manor was just the tip of the iceberg. The month of January saw reports of 58 car burglaries, a significant increase from the 26 car burglaries in December.

“These are peaks and valleys,” said Marcum, adding that typically 65 percent of burglaries are of unlocked vehicles. “We have groups that seem to come in and they commit vehicle burglaries, back off and then it goes up again.”

The month of February isn’t off to a great start either, already hitting 30 thanks to a string of 20 car burglaries on Saturday, Feb. 4, along Park Avenue, according to the Winter Park Police Department’s online crime map.

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