Deputies: Third arrest in Pasco school burglaries - WFLA News Channel 8

Deputies: Third arrest in Pasco school burglaries

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PASCO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Eric R. Rodriguez is the third person arrested in the Pasco School Burglaries.  More details about Rodriguez's involvement in this case has yet to be released.  Please stay with WFLA.com as this investigation continues.

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco says his detectives have started unraveling a major theft ring involved in stealing pricey Apple computer products from local schools.

"We've broke the case and now we need the public's assistance to go even further and make more arrests," said Sheriff Nocco.

On Monday deputies arrested Alexis Rafeal Ortiz, 19, of 7014 Ingelside Dr. As of Tuesday night, he was facing charges of burglary of an unoccupied structure or conveyance. He's in the Land O' Lakes Jail under a $30,000 bond.

According to the sheriff's office report, a deputy discovered stolen goods in Ortiz's car during a traffic stop, leading to an investigation.

One arrest was just the start. Joshua Dennis, 17, was arrested Wednesday. He faces additional charges of aggravated battery on law enforcement because he reached for the deputy's weapon when being handcuffed.

Detective Rich Stackon says there are as many as half a dozen involved in the burglary ring; maybe more.

Detectives believe the thieves are responsible for stealing equipment valued at $165,606 since October 15, 2012: $71,092 worth from Calusa Elementary; $12,241 from Chasco Elementary; $10,148 from Chasco Middle; and $70,650 from Ridgewood High School. Loses total $8,744 beyond that and an additional $3,200 in property damage.

Deputies are warning parents to be on the lookout for Apple products they didn't pay for.

"A lot of the sales happened through social media," Stackon said. "I guess these kids ... have a thousand friends on Facebook and say 'hey I've got some iPads and iPods ... Does anybody want one? A couple people chime in and that's how it spread from there."

Superintendent Kurt Browning says the ring has been able to dodge security cameras.

"We're finding is these guys are being able to figure out where security cameras are picking them up and we've actually had them travel from classroom to classroom ... through connecting doors," he said.

"What aggravates me most about this is that we have fences around our schools, we have doors locked, we have windows locked, we have security cameras, we have alarm systems ... And quite honestly I don't think we need to be securing our own equipment in our classrooms," Browning added.

He said the system is slowly getting to the point to where it can replace everything lost.

"It just disrupts the whole educational opportunity these kids have at these schools," Browning said.

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