Criminals rarely leave obvious clues for use by law enforcement personnel in tracing their location and finding them. Two attempted car robberies in Deltona appear to have broken these rules because police were able to find the defendant by following a trail of hard-to-miss signs, including empty pizza boxes and red pizza sauce.
The incident and the clues
Volusia County Sheriff’s officers were recently called to investigate a series of car break-ins in Deltona. When police arrived at the first scene, they found that three credit cards had been stolen from one of the cars and later used at three Deltona gas stations. A 9mm hand gun and an expired concealed weapons permit were missing from one of the vehicles. Police interviewed a woman who lived close to the first crime scene. She said that the suspect had come over earlier in the evening and asked if she knew anyone who might be interested in purchasing a firearm. The suspect asked the woman to verify the balance on of the credit cards, but she refused. She also told police that she saw the man remove a portion of a Little Caesar’s pizza box from her trash.
Further investigation revealed an empty pizza box that had been left behind at the scene, presumably by the suspect. Red sauce was found on the handle of one of the automobiles when it was recovered by police.
The defendant was found walking down an adjacent street, still carrying the stolen credit cards and IDs. The suspect was arrested and charged with armed burglary of a conveyance, burglary of a conveyance, four counts of fraudulent use of credit cards, grand theft of a fire arm, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, theft and dealing in stolen property. He was incarcerated in the Volusia County Jail, and the judge set his bail at $71,000. Perhaps not aware of how police found him, the suspect told officers that “You got me red-handed.”
If convicted, the defendant in this case will face significant criminal penalties, including jail time and a significant fine. Anyone facing similar charges may wish to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney for an evaluation of the evidence, a suggestion various defense strategies and, if appropriate, advice on negotiation an acceptable plea agreement with the prosecutor.