Traveling Thieves

Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman is providing this information to citizens to help educate our community about the risk posed by traveling thieves. These organized groups generally commit crimes full-time and travel to Florida in the winter months, often passing down their "trade" from generation to generation. They rarely leave evidence behind and are very good at blending in, which is why citizens need to be vigilant about who is in their neighborhood and report suspicious activity.

Transient criminals commit a variety of thefts and cons, including burglary. They may knock loudly on your door to see if anyone is home. If no one answers they will often enter their repertoire.the back yard to gain entry through a rear door or slider. If someone does answer, the suspect may try to get you outside or away from your front door so their partner in crime can get in, or they may have an odd explanation for being there such as asking for directions or looking for a lost dog. Workers may approach you for roof work or paving, and after performing sub-par work, intimidate you for more money. Thefts such as pick pocketing, stealing wallets from shoppers or shoplifting are also part of their repertoire.

Sarasota County has mostly seen unoccupied burglaries, and they often occur right after residents leave, which means suspects are watching their victims drive off. Always set your home security alarm if you have one, even for short trips, and keep doors and windows locked. Look for suspicious vehicles in your neighborhood, or vehicles that drop off people who start walking along the street on foot. If you see anything suspicious, call 911 so a deputy can contact the subjects to determine their reason for being there. They may not be criminals, but let us determine that.

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office is vigorously investigating these crimes, sharing information with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and proactively educating our community to call us to investigate anything suspicious when you see it, before a crime occurs.