BELLEAIR – In the early morning hours of July 19 a Belleair homeowner heard a sound outside his home on Winston Drive. As he got up to investigate, it sounded to him like someone trying to open the rear door.
When he inadvertently switched on an interior light, the startled burglar fled; possibly believing he had tripped a motion sensor. The homeowner reported he saw someone running away from the house.
Thinking it was all over, the homeowner set the alarm and returned to bed. A few moments later the alarm went off. He tried to call 911, but the phone line was dead.
It was later discovered that the telephone box outside had been pulled from the wall. A quick inspection found that the wires connecting the alarm to a call center also had been pulled.
The homeowner used his cell phone to call 911. Belleair police Chief Tom Edwards said that within two minutes police arrived on the scene.
Police called in two Pinellas County Sheriff’s K-9 units as well as a search helicopter.
The search revealed tracks leading to the street, but found no suspects at the scene.
Edwards said he would not term this an attempted “home invasion” because the suspect may have believed the home was empty. The homeowner had been out of town for a few days prior to the event.
“If they had succeeded in gaining entry it could have been a lot worse,” said Edwards.
Police are continuing their investigation. There has been no arrest.
Edwards urged homeowners to have and maintain a home alarm system with direct connect to an alarm call center. He said that with today’s wireless technology, alarms are now available with a “dialer” that works without the hard-wired connection, using instead standard cell technology.
Edwards said it is also helpful if residents who notice suspicious activity in their area or a strange vehicle to take a moment and jot down a description or license plate number. Then he advised to just keep the information for reference in the event there is a future incident involving a police investigation. Witness information he said is one of the most important tools the police have at their disposal when it comes to investigating a crime scene.
In an unrelated incident, the Belleair police are investigating a series of car break-ins in two condominium parking garages on Belleview Boulevard and Oakmont Lane. Altogether five vehicles were found by police to have been robbed after one caller reported a theft and police did a routine check of other vehicles in the area.
Two cars were damaged by forced entry, one a convertible had its top slashed and the other, a broken side window; the other three vehicles were unlocked.
Police suspect the thieves were looking for any valuables such as cell phones, radar detectors, and GPS devices; even loose change can be a lure for would-be thieves.
Residents are advised to always lock their vehicles.