In 2006 a submachine gun, a semi-automatic rifle, and a .45 caliber Glock Pistol were stolen from an unmarked Orlando, Florida SWAT Vehicle in Orlando County near Curry Ford and Dean Roads.
In February of this year Orange County, Florida Sheriff Jerry Demings publicly requested that firearm owners not leave their firearms in vehicles due to the risk of theft.
Then, approximately three months later on April 30th, two loaded handguns were stolen from an unmarked Orange County Sheriff Department’s Nissan Xterra SUV in Daytona Beach. The firearms had been issued to two undercover deputies who were attending a conference in Daytona Beach. At the time of the theft the deputies were swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. The Deputies had placed their loaded pistols inside a black purse which they then put on the floor and under the front seat of the SUV, according to Captain Angelo Nieves. The SUV was found two blocks away sans the firearms and the ammunition.
The Sheriff’s Office refused to release the names of the deputies to their employees, the citizens and taxpayers of Orlando County. However, Captain Nieves reported that the deputies had been punished with an eight hour suspension. Nieves did not specify whether the suspension was with or without pay. Nor did he explain how a one day suspension was adequate to punish and rehabilitate two supposedly experienced and veteran deputies who have placed the general public at great risk by failing to properly secure and store their department issued firearms so that they do not end up in the hands of criminals. There was also no mention of why the deputy’s unattended weapons were loaded, or of remedial training for the deputies.
Then, just last week on Sunday, July 12th between the hours of 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., and just two months after the previous theft, a small arsenal was stolen from another unmarked Orange County Sheriff’s Department Chevrolet Traverse SUV, in the lake Griffin Estates neighborhood of Casselberry. The deputy in possession of the vehicle was assigned to the Tactical Unit, a high risk squad that targets high crime locations. The weaponry stolen included an H&K UMP Submachine Gun, an M4 semi-automatic rifle, a .45 caliber Glock Pistol, a Taser, a Kevlar helmet, an expandable baton, a police radio, and multiple tactical vests. In addition a .40 caliber Glock Pistol that was privately owned by the deputy was also stolen. The vehicle had been parked in an unsecured driveway.
According to Casselberry Police Sergeant Chris Pamatian, the deputy claimed to have locked the vehicle. However, there were no signs of forced entry. Pamatian also reported that there was no locked container. Once again Captain Nieves refused to release the name of the deputy. Nieves claims that the Orlando County Sheriff’s Department Internal Affairs is investigating whether the deputy had properly secured the firearms and other sensitive equipment inside a department mandated container, and if so, whether the container was locked. If the deputy failed to do so then he was in violation of department rules. Nieves did not speculate as to what the impact of the firearms would be if they ended up in one of the same high crime neighborhoods to which the deputy is assigned.
Casselberry Police did procure surveillance video from a neighbor that shows three persons of interest who appear to be checking vehicles.
Neither Captain Nieves nor any other representatives of the Orlando County Sheriff’s Department have provided specific standards that deputies are required to adhere to in order to ensure that their department issued firearms and other equipment are properly secured, or even if such standards exist. Nor has the department speculated upon the wisdom of parking a vehicle with so much firepower and other equipment in an unsecured driveway in the middle of the night. It is also unclear why deputies are leaving firearms in vehicles when their boss has requested that this action not be taken.
The costs to the taxpayers for the investigations and replacement of all these firearms and equipment is unknown.
None of the firearms or the equipment have been recovered.
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