South Tampa serial burglars strike again

- Surveillance video from inside Derek Cunard's house shows his shock after arriving home Monday evening to discover he was the victim of a burglar.

"The door was ajar. The first thing I thought was my bad, I left the house in a hurry, I didn't lock the door," Cunard said Tuesday.

He quickly realized this wasn't any mistake of his own. He did not know at the time, he was likely one of nearly two dozen victims of the same serial burglars hitting South Tampa homes.

"Immediately as the door opened, I could see the hallway was totally ransacked. Clothes everywhere," he described.

One thing thieves missed was his home surveillance camera, which captured the whole thing.

"You see him calmly walk through the house with the radio, black rubber gloves, gray sweat suit on, black rubber shoes," Cunard said.

Cunard's case is one of 22 South Tampa home burglaries since March. Police believe the burglars work quickly, as a team, to case a home and break in, typically during a weekday, when homeowners are at work. Locked fences and doors, dogs, and alarm systems don't seem to be deterrents.

"It's proven to be a challenge. They seem to have a plan, and they aren't making any of the mistakes we would expect someone to make by this point," Tampa Police's Steve Hegarty said Tuesday.

Even crystal-clear surveillance images haven't generated tips on who's behind the string of crimes. Police now have reason to believe the suspects could be from south Florida and are traveling to some of Tampa's most sought-after real estate to grab and go.

"I just want the neighborhoods to start taking care of each other and watching out, and if you see something suspicious, call it in right away," Cunard said.

Police believe the suspects were driving a 2010-2013 bright blue Kia Forte on Tuesday, but they say it appears they're switching up cars when they commit these crimes.

Police say the criminals are repeatedly seen knocking on doors or ringing doorbells before they break in, so if you are home, police say it's a good idea to alert people of your presence. If you don't recognize them, don't open the door.

If you recognize the suspects in the video, you can leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS.

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