PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla.- The Charlotte County Sheriff’s helicopter crew was instrumental in catching three burglars that were breaking into a Whidden Industrial Park business last night. The helicopter was the first Sheriff’s unit on scene of the burglary call and from the air saw three men running from the business and jump into a car to escape. The car turned its headlights off to evade capture, but the helicopter is equipped with night vision and infra-red cameras; even with the lights off the car was completely visible to the helicopter crew.
The pilot and observer directed the responding patrol cars right to the fleeing car and the three burglars were taken into custody. The burglars would have had a good chance at escape had it not been for the helicopter and its crew.
Sheriff Bill Cameron said, “This is just one great example of having the right tools for the job. Sometimes unknowing critics question why we have an air support unit at the Sheriff’s Office. This is just one recent example of exactly why we need this invaluable police tool.”
The 17-year-old juvenile driver, his 15-year-old brother, both from Fort Myers, and Vincent Lamar Williams, 20, of Lehigh Acres, were arrested. Detectives are still looking for a fourth suspect. While being questioned, deputies located a burglary at B&M Auto Group, 4127 James Street in the area where the subjects were seen. Crimes Scene was notified and collected evidence at the burglary site. The teenage brothers were booked into the Charlotte County Jail and then transferred to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Fort Myers. Williams remains in jail on $27,500 bond.
This is the second time in as many weeks the aviation unit made an apprehension. Last week, the helicopter spotted and pursued a dangerously low flying aircraft flying at night over Port Charlotte’s hospital area. Once the airplane pilot landed the plane, he was instantly arrested for dangerous operation of an aircraft in violation of FAA regulations.