Burglars target South Tampa neighborhood in broad daylight

A burglar targeted several homes in a coveted South Tampa neighborhood during broad daylight over the weekend, even while one person was inside taking a shower.

The Palma Ceia and Parkland Estates neighborhoods are known for their scenery and safety, but surveillance cameras and alarm systems didn't deter someone from breaking into several homes around 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

"At night, most people are home. If you're a smart burglar, you might scout out a neighborhood, and see when people are not home," Tampa police's Steve Hegarty said Monday.

Four homes were targeted on S. Golf View Street, W. Morrison Avenue, W. Simms Street, and W. Neptune Street, and police believe it was the same suspect or suspects behind all of them. 

In one case, cameras caught a small, white car loitering outside a home for 12 minutes. Police say as soon as the homeowner left for the gym around 10 a.m., the criminal smashed their way in. Another family member was showering inside.

"Thank God no one was injured, because there was someone home," Hegarty said.

The criminal was in and out before anyone knew what had happened.

Around 10:30 a.m., a burglar beat down the front door of a different house and was in and out, with guns, jewelry, and electronics, in less than four minutes. The family's alarm system was blaring the whole time. By the time the cops were called, the car and the valuables were gone.

Tampa-based EEI Security has been in business for nearly 30 years. Employees there say it's critical to keep your alarm system's emergency call list short and accurate.

"Keeping that list updated is very important. You can have a lot of contacts on there," EEI Security, Inc. Vice President Greg Bateham said Monday.

They also recommend setting your alarm during the day and when you're home. Police added, sometimes your neighbors are your best defense.

"There are no neighborhoods that are immune to crime, which is why we tell people when you see something that doesn't add up, when you see something that doesn't seem right, please let us know about it regardless of what neighborhood you're in," Hegarty said.

Tampa police said officers have some good leads. They're in the process of collecting more surveillance video around the impacted neighborhoods.