It’s one thing to have your personal belongings stolen from your locker, but it’s another nightmare altogether when the suspects who stole your belongings try to break into your home that same day.
That’s exactly what happened to Lakewood Ranch resident John Farrell, who was working out at the Lakewood Ranch YMCA, 5100 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., when the lock to his locker was cut.
Several of Farrell’s personal items were taken, including his credit cards, identification and his house keys, according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s police report.
Farrell notified police 3 p.m. Aug. 22, and his credit cards were swiped soon thereafter at a nearby Hess gas station, a local Subway and Walmart by two men whose faces were captured on business security cameras.
According to a media release, Farrell’s identity theft issue became the least of his worries when the two men used his identification and his house keys to try to gain access to his Greenbrook Banks home on Blue Fish Circle that evening while he was home.
“The victim heard someone trying to make entry into his home through the front door,” the police report states. “He confronted (a suspect) as he was unlocking the door and opening it. As soon as the suspect realized he was home, he fled in a vehicle.”
Farrell could not be reached for comment.
The report states that Try Brown, 22, and Cody Gillis, 21, were arrested using surveillance camera footage from the various businesses they stopped at to use Farrell’s credit cards. Brown, of Sarasota, was found and arrested on Aug. 25 and taken to the Sarasota County Jail. Gillis of Bradenton was found and arrested on Aug. 27 and taken to the Manatee County Jail.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Administrative Assistant Cynthia Truewell said that one of the men allegedly entered the gym with bolt cutters stuffed into his pants. Police made the connection after a witness notified police that they saw one man enter the gym “walking kind of funny.”
“The best way to protect your belongings while you’re at a gym is by placing them in a locker with a good padlock,” Truewell said. “But one of these guys walked in there with bolt cutters on a mission to steal belongings. So, unfortunately for this victim, he did everything right and his belongings were still stolen.”
Crime Prevention Tips
To keep belongings safe at the gym:
• Keep them locked in a locker with a good padlock.
• Take minimal identification and credit cards into the gym with you.
• Report any suspicious activity.
To protect your identity:
• Empty your wallet of extra cards and identification cards.
• Close all unused credit card or bank accounts.
• Shred pre-approved credit applications, credit card receipts, bills, and other financial information you don’t want before discarding them in the trash or recycling bin.
• Remove your name from mailing lists for pre-approved credit lines by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688).
• Remove your name, phone number and home address from marketing lists by contacting the Direct Marketing Association. This will not prevent your name from being placed on all marketing lists, but it removes your information from many of them.
• Only release your personal data (social security number, date of birth, bank account or credit account numbers, etc.), to agencies who require it for action you have initiated. Never give this information to unsolicited telephone callers or over the Internet.• Contact the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and request assignment of an alternate driver’s license number if it currently features your Social Security number. Furthermore, submit a request to limit access to the personal information on your Driver’s License under the Driver Privacy Protection Act.
To make changes to remove your information from mailing lists and driver’s licenses, contact:
DMA Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008
DMA Telephone Preference Service
P.O. Box 9014
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9014