Vehicles burglarized at popular walking trail; public asked for help

OKEECHOBEE — Two vehicles were burglarized Sunday while their owners were taking advantage of the hiking trail at the Taylor Creek stormwater treatment area (STA) located at 7201 U.S. 441 N.

The STA, operated by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), has been the site of at least three car burglaries during the month of July.

A report by Deputy Jessica Francis, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), stated she responded to the July 30 complaint at the walking trail around 10 a.m. While she was working one break-in, a local couple told her their vehicle had also been burglarized.

In the first case, Deputy Francis stated the burglary occurred sometime between 9 and 9:45 a.m. The thief apparently gained entry to the vehicle by breaking out the rear window on the driver’s side of the pickup truck.

The owner of the first vehicle reportedly told Deputy Francis when he arrived at the walking trail there was a small, black car parked at the gate. He thought the vehicle was possibly a Volkswagen. Apparently there was a white male sitting in that car with the windows down.

It’s not known at this time if that man had anything to do with the burglaries.

According to the vehicle owner’s statement he and his son arrived at the STA around 9 a.m. and when he returned to his truck around 9:45 he found the window broken out. Missing from the truck was a black bag that contained valuable paperwork.

“There were pry marks on both vehicles where the suspects used an instrument to pry the windows open,” noted Deputy Francis.

Deputy Francis went on to point out that $35 was missing from the glove box in the second truck.

“Both vehicles had wallets and cash in them that were not found,” added the deputy.

The first car burglary this month at the STA occurred July 20 while a man and his wife were walking the trail around 10 a.m. When they finished their trek they returned to their 2010 Nissan SUV only to find the driver’s side rear window broken out.

The thief stole a black and gray Dooney and Bourke handbag that was valued at $200.

Inside that bag was the woman’s driver’s license, two debit cards, a Macy’s credit card, her Social Security card, her house keys, the key fob to the SUV and $20 cash.

OCSO Deputy William Jolly handled the complaint and noted in his report the woman had already canceled her credit and debit cards. The deputy also pointed out he was able to retrieve some partial prints from the driver’s door.

If anyone has information about any of these burglaries, they are asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 863-763-3117.

This photo shows the parking area at the entrance to the Taylor Creek STA on U.S. 441, north of Okeechobee. The STA itself is quite interesting.


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