Business owners on high alert after multiple burglaries in Charlotte County

Published: January 11, 2022 4:36 PM EST
Updated: January 12, 2022 9:37 AM EST

A fourth break-in has been confirmed in one part of Southwest Florida. Now, business owners in Charlotte County are hoping not to be the next target. Some have even been forced to close their doors as a way to recover.

Charlotte County Sheriff’s deputies believe these business break-ins are connected, or at least they say it appears that way. Now the sheriff’s office is encouraging all business owners to make sure their surveillance cameras are working and recording properly before locking up their stores for the night.

Because, so far, deputies do not have a clear picture or video of what the person(s) committing these burglaries looks like.

Charlotte County detectives have been investigating business break-ins. This trend is a troubling start to the new year. Claudette Smith is the public information officer for the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. “Just from in the month of January, we’ve seen four already,” Smith said.

Smith says the sheriff’s office is unsure if the break-ins are related, but many suspect that they could be. “We are unsure if they’re related, but the method seems to be the same,” said Smith. 

The first break-in happened at Pelican’s Snoballs in Port Charlotte. That burglary was overnight Sunday into Monday. WINK News has video of forensic specialists and deputies processing that scene.

Then, there was a similar break-in at Ice Cream Gelato World along Tamiami Trail. That store owner told WINK News that the person who broke inside made off with the register in under one minute. Luckily, she was able to get a new door and is now back in business.

Tina Figliuolo is the CEO of the homeless coalition. When she arrived at Fabulous Finds Resale Shop, along Tamiami Trail, she was heartbroken at what she found. “This was a horrible scene to see that somebody would break into our resale shop as part of a nonprofit organization,” said Figliuolo.

When she got there, the door was shattered. Gone was some cash and a donation jar for the coalition that they keep at the front counter.

“It’s just heart-wrenching to know that somebody out there is doing this to small businesses. Charlotte County… prides themselves on our small businesses. Especially from a nonprofit, it’s sad to see that someone would, would take advantage of us,” Figliuolo said.

Detectives say they do believe the break-ins to be related, as the technique is the same, but they do not have enough evidence to confirm that.