PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla.- Two Charlotte County Sheriff's District Commanders caught two air conditioner unit thieves red handed Thursday. Thieves have been cutting copper lines to a/c units in advance to return later and quickly take the entire unit. Surveillance equipment was set up to try to catch the thieves.
District-2 Commander Lt. Mike Anderson and District-4 Commander Lt. Randy Horner, drove by a house at 23195 Peachland Blvd., Port Charlotte, around 12:30 p.m. Thursday. The a/c lines were cut the day before believing thieves would return. When the two Lieutenants’ drove by, they saw a green Nissan Quest van backing out of the driveway and the a/c unit missing. They stopped the van and found two people inside along with the stolen a/c unit. Driver of the van was Carol Ann Hagerman, 24, and her passenger, Michael Brandon VanDyke, 28, both of 3044 Key Lane, Port Charlotte. VanDyke made a spontaneous utterance, “you got us!” He also stated, “We took the air conditioner because we needed money to pay our electric bill.” Both were taken in for questioning.
Detectives said on May 27, the owner of a home at 3179 Newbury Street in Port Charlotte called CCSO to report his a/c unit lines were cut and thought thieves would return to steal it. A surveillance system was set up and the next morning CCSO was alerted the a/c unit was being stolen. Deputies found the unit was missing upon arrival but had photos of the suspect’s vehicle, a green Nissan van.
Wednesday, the Peachland Boulevard home a/c line was cut, similar to the Newbury Street incident, and a surveillance operation was set up. This is when the two Commanders drove by after their lunch hour to check and caught them in the act Thursday.
VanDyke and Hagerman were both taken to the Charlotte County Jail. VanDyke is charged at this time with two counts of Grand Theft; Hagerman with one count of Grand Theft. The investigation continues and more a/c theft cases may be solved. Hagerman has not posted a $2,500 bond. VanDyke has no bond as he is a convicted felon with 22 bookings into the Charlotte County Jail.