HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Hernando County couple is now behind bars after deputies say they broke into and stole close to $70,000 worth of items from homes under construction.
According to Sheriff Al Nienhuis, the sheriff’s office first received a report on May 16 from a homeowner saying items totaling $5,000 were stolen out of their house, which was under construction. A few weeks later, he said more reports came in of similar incidents – this time from builders.
Then, around 12:30 a.m. on June 13, the sheriff said a resident noticed some suspicious activity at a few homes being developed. He said the neighbor confronted the individuals, later identified as 36-year-old Jennifer Brewer and 40-year-old Rodney Brewer, and told them deputies were on their way.
Although the Brewers left the area, deputies say they were able to track down the moving truck they were in.
During their investigation, deputies also learned the couple had used vacant storage units at a facility without renting or paying for them.
In total, Nienhuis said the couple committed 18 burglaries, three of which were with regards to the empty storage units and 15 relating to homes under construction, and stole close to $70,000 worth of construction supplies.
The couple is now facing 19 counts of burglary and trespassing on a construction site. Rodney is also charged with three counts of drug possession and Jennifer was charged with two counts of drug possession.
“We want to send a very clear message to the criminals out there, just because construction has increased and the opportunity for this type of crime has increased, the likelihood of you getting away has not increased. We’re going to be all over it and we’re going to hold you accountable for it,” Nienhuis said.
The sheriff asked the community to take the following prevention tips as the Tampa Bay area continues to see a rise in new housing developments:
- Have a relationship with your local sheriff’s office and/or police department
- Ask law enforcement to conduct security checks
- Add unique identifiers to the items within the home in case they are stolen
- Add surveillance measures such as security cameras
- Add location finders for high-priced items,
- Limit how many people know about upcoming supply and appliance deliveries
- If items are stolen, please report the incident immediately
- Check your construction site often
- Report suspicious activity