Thieves target pickup trucks at hotels in Pasco & Hillsborough

Evan Axelbank Reporting

Professional thieves may be targeting pickup trucks parked in hotel parking lots along the I-75 corridor, Pasco County Sheriff's Deputies said.

"They know what they are doing," said Kevin Doll of the Pasco Co. Sheriff's Office.

Landon Rozier, one of the victims, says the windows on his brand new pickup truck were smashed on Sunday night while parked at the Sleep Inn in Wesley Chapel.

"I walked outside to a busted window," he said.

He says his $2,000 Versace sunglasses were stolen.

"I literally dropped to my knees and tears started coming out of my eyes because I knew I had been robbed," Rozier added.

He was burglarized, along with two others at the Wesley Chapel Sleep Inn and five others at a nearby Hampton Inn. 

Sunglasses, tools and two guns were taken from eight pickup trucks whose windows were smashed.

"Why these people are targeting trucks we don't know," said Doll. "It could be that there are more weapons or tools in these trucks."

Pasco Deputies conferred with Hillsborough deputies and found that a similar incident took place there two weeks ago.

At the Sheraton in East Tampa, twelve vehicles, including ten pickups, had their windows smashed with similar items missing, including three guns and a $5,000 Rolex watch.

Because all three locations are along I-75, deputies wonder if it's the same suspects.

"They're targeting Pasco, they're targeting Hillsborough, they're targeting Tampa, that leads us to believe it could be a ring," said Doll.

Between the three incidents, deputies in both counties believe up to $8,800 worth of people's belongings were taken.

"I would assume they are going to the black market and are being sold off that way," said Doll. "Maybe to pay for a drug habit, maybe to pay for other things. We just don't know.

Deputies say they're examining surveillance video from the hotels, and believe they're looking for two men in a dark four door sedan. Rozier now believes he saw them in the parking lot smoking after he parked and went upstairs.

"You literally have a loss of words coming out and looking at a vehicle where they completely vandalized it and going through your stuff," said Rozier. "You just feel extremely violated."

Hotels in the area are putting the word out to one another about the thefts.

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