Commissioner Says Glades Sheriff Not Responsible For Catching Thief
MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- A news story appeared this week in community newspapers regarding a theft of items from Glades Commissioner Donna Storter Long in March 2007.
The Sunday Morning News did not print the story. Over the years we have noticed the Glades Sheriff's office does not provide news releases to news media. Mrs. Storter alleges that Sheriff Whiddon made special efforts to get this story of the conviction of the thief to local print newspapers. Mrs. Storter replies:
Re headlines: Man pleads guilty in County Commissioner�s theft
First off, would this have made headlines if it did not involve a county commissioner or another elected official? How often do we read of the sentencing of other Glades County criminals when the victim is not a public official? Was this a political ploy?
One newspaper editor informed me that [Glades Sheriff] Whiddon's office submitted it to them--it was not solicited by the newspapers. Whiddon knows my husband has made a campaign contribution to (and is supporting) Tony Wilson for Sheriff of Glades County.
I am the victim and the one whose efforts led to the arrest of Ronald Tracy Williams, who, by the way, did NOT plead guilty to the crime.
We had arrived home after a week�s vacation on March 24, 2007 about 9:30 pm. When I realized our home had been invaded and articles were missing, I called 9-1-1 and Deputy Crosswell who is assigned to my Ortona �zone�, arrived within 10 minutes. He examined the perimeter of my home, found no evidence of any disturbance that would indicate a forced entry and he created the offense report.
Investigator-deputy Terrence. Deese was called and arrived within an hour or so. He attempted to lift fingerprints from my computer cover and said he found the diamond-shaped imprints of a rubber kitchen-type glove. He too looked around the premises and took no more fingerprints.
During the burglary of our home the perp removed firearms, electronic computer equipment and other personal items, some discovered missing later when I began carefully examining and searching my office.
I expressed my suspicion of Tracy Williams because of his prior reputation and record and because years before I had given his disabled sister a key to our home so she could feed my cats when we were away from home occasionally overnight. Sometimes she returned the key, and sometimes she did not. She was not feeding our cats while we were gone in March 2007. But I did not have the spare key that I had given her because she had not returned it the last time she fed my cats.
On Monday March 26, I contacted Transunion and Experian and requested that a Fraud Alert be placed in my and my husband�s consumer credit files to prevent the possibility of identity theft because I was not sure exactly what private documents and information were compromised in the invasion my home. That action was the ultimate reason the thief was caught.]
He attempted to use my husband�s Discover Credit card and in fact successfully used it at the Citgo convenience store in LaBelle (in Hendry County not Glades) by using the card reader at the gas pump and punching in our zip code he well knew it-he is the son of our neighbor. No ID was required so the fraud alert did not kick in.
However, he proceeded to Wal-Mart in Lehigh Acres (Lee County) and he was unable to use the card; Discover called us, I called the Glades S.O., and after about two weeks, Wal-Mart provided a copy of their video that incriminated Tracy Williams.
The video showed when Tracy Williams arrived in the parking lot, when he entered the store, when he attempted to use my husband�s credit card, and when he left the store.
He was subsequently arrested a couple of weeks later. The clothing he was wearing in the Wal-Mart video was found in his home. Also, evidence identified from another theft in our neighborhood was found in his home, but, the investigator did not confiscate those items even though they were identified by the other victim.
Because the charges for burglarizing our home were not filed in a timely manner, he was released with no bail, after a very short incarceration. About 4 months later, while he was out awaiting trial for burglarizing our home, he was arrested for another burglary in Ortona, along with his partner in crime, Julius �Gopher� Wright.
Tracy did not plead guilty to the burglary of my home. His lawyer �bargained� for him using his testimony against Wright as leverage. He pled �no contest� to grand theft and �no contest� to credit card fraud. His penalty was finishing up a total of 364 incarceration days for both crimes (he is out of jail and at large now), he agreed to pay restitution for the amount our insurance did not cover, four years probation, and he cannot come on our property.
No doubt he quickly and easily sold the items he stole from us including (among other things) two pistols, computer hardware (and software) and electronic devices. I assure you the street value was much higher than the restitution he has agreed to pay.
People, be warned. You must be proactive in guarding your home and your identity. For the rest of our lives my husband and I will be paying LifeLock to keep a fraud alert and monitor on our credit information. Until you have been burglarized and robbed, you cannot realize how vulnerable you are and how violated you feel.
After the offense report was filed, nothing was done to identify (much less apprehend) the perpetrator of this crime against us and our home; we did not hear from the Sheriff�s Office again until I called them about the Discover card fraud. You may have received, as I had, the email going around about filing a fraud alert. I assure you, it is effective.
The fraud alert I filed is the only reason Tracy was caught. Nobody "tracked him down". Wal-Mart provided the evidence.