Three burglars are behind bars due to the work of one of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office’s most elite units.
The TAC unit arrested three burglars Thursday, after receiving information about suspicious activity and then observing the trio commit several crimes.
According to a prepared statement from the Sheriff’s Office, a resident reported three young men going through mailboxes near Wilkinson Road in Sarasota. Patrol deputies responded and were not able to make an arrest. The TAC unit then conducted surveillance, observing the three individuals enter a vehicle inside an open garage and go behind another house and come out with a jar of coins. When contacted, the trio admitted to two crimes on Nelson Avenue as well as removing the screen from a window on a Pasadena Avenue home, but abandoning the break-in when they couldn’t get inside.
Michael Molnar, 19, faces three felony counts of burglary. His accomplices, 19-year-old Alexander Mohr and 17-year-old Charles Nigh, each face two felony burglary charges.
The Sarasota Sheriff’s TAC unit is the showcase unit of Sheriff Tom Knight’s intelligence led policing program known as “Intelligence 2 Action” (I2A).
TAC units covertly observe and target high-profile offenders based on intelligence provided by a squad of five intelligence analysts and seven detectives known as the Crime Analysis Unit (CAU).
Using a combination of crime mapping, confidential informant reports, deputy field interviews and other confidential techniques, the CAU provides actionable intelligence to TAC units in the field, allowing them to more effectively concentrate resources where the are needed most.
“I2A is a total commitment from the agency,” said Sheriff’s Lt John Jernigan, commander of the TAC unit. “It’s a force multiplier and allows us to be proactive; we don’t just wait for crime to happen.”
The CAU briefs TAC unit deputies on the activities of prolific offenders, and provides updates on crime trends and hot spots. This allows the TAC unit to respond to people and places where crimes are most likely to occur.
“Our job is to focus on prolific people, places and trends,” Jernigan said. “You take one prolific offender off the street and your crime rate drops.”
The I2A model led to several recent high-profile busts, including a 2011 crackdown on scrap metal thieves, Operation Meltdown, which led to 62 arrests; and this year’s Operation Booster Buster, a retail theft sting that landed 52 individuals in jail.
“I2A is working,” Jernigan said. “Other agencies are starting to look at how we do things. They want to know how we do what we do.”
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