Published: Jan 06, 2011 5:20 PM EST
Updated: Jan 06, 2011 2:20 PM EST

LEE COUNTY-- Jose Maldonado (DOB 09/18/1984) has been sentenced to 180 months in prison for two burglaries committed in 2009.

On October 30th, 2009 an alert resident notified the Lee County Sheriff’s Office after witnessing some suspicious activity.   This "near-victim" contacted the Sheriff’s Office to report a person had knocked on his door and asked for "Heather."   The resident provided a description the suspicious person and the vehicle they were driving.  Two burglaries were later reported on 42nd Street SW and Hedgewood Street in Lehigh Acres.  Additional witnesses reported similar tactics, suspect description, and vehicle description.  The investigation was then assumed by the Sheriff’s Office Bravo District Criminal Investigation Division. 

Suspect and vehicle descriptions were given to other agency members, including Bravo District’s Selective Enforcement Team (S.E.T.), a unit focusing on reducing residential burglaries in the Lehigh Acres area.

On November 9th, 2009, a member of the S.E.T. unit conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle that matched the description provided by witnesses.  Maldonado was in the vehicle.  This traffic stop resulted in the recovery of a firearm, ski mask, multiple pairs of gloves, drug paraphernalia, and changes of clothing.

Detectives conducted an interview with Maldonado and were able to link him to the three incidents that had occurred on October 30th.  Detectives were able to determine the “Heather” tactic was being used to determine whether or not there was anyone home.  If no one answered, Maldonado said he and others would enter the home and steal anything they could, primarily focusing on electronics.  According to Maldonado, they would then sell these items on the street.  Maldonado was arrested and charged with multiple counts of burglary of a dwelling and grand theft.  Maldonado was the only person identified and convicted for these crimes.

Wednesday, Maldonado pled ‘no contest’ to the charges and was sentenced to 15 years (180 months) in prison.

Detectives working the case continue to praise the “alert neighbor” for providing the Lee County Sheriff’s Office with the critical tip that led them to the thief.