Arrest made in Westchase open garage door burglaries

Steven McCullers, Hillsborough County Jail booking photo

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Hillsborough County man was arrested and charged in connection with multiple open garage door burglaries in Westchase and nearby communities.

Deputies arrested 53-year old Steven McCullers.  He’s now facing numerous charges including burglary of an occupied dwelling, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, grand theft and dealing in stolen property.

Deputies with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office reported seeing a rise of garage thefts in that area. The deputies called them crimes of opportunity because garage doors were left open.

McCuller’s arrest was a bit of a surprise.  He certainly did not fit the mold of your typical petit thief.  He’s older, has no prior arrest history in Hillsborough County, and quite frankly, blends in pretty well with others in the neighborhood.

“He looked like one of your neighbors.  He didn’t look anything suspicious about him,”  said  Master Deputy Hugh Alter.  “And he basically used open garage doors to commit his crimes.”

Deputies say car doors that are left unlocked can also attract thieves.  Criminals also see this as an opportunity.

“They start rummaging through the center console, the glove box, they start looking around and they’ll find keys to the car, they’ll find garage door openers,” said Alter.  “And then they come back or they’ll take the opportunity chance the opportunity right there.”

Deputy Alter says it was an alert citizen in the Dana Shores community who noticed McCullers acting strangely and notified authorities.  Rita Munaker is that woman’s neighbor.

“So, he come back, she ran in in the meantime to get a pencil to write the tag number,” said Munaker, giggling about the fact the thief was nabbed.  “So, he came back and picked up the second bike and she said. ‘You scum … What are you doing and she ran after him!!!’. ”

The numbers that the woman wrote down were enough to put deputies hot on McCullers’ trail.

Sheriff’s office records indicate there has not been another burglary since his arrest.  But, deputies are urging residents not to let their guard down.

“This was a crime of opportunity,” said Deputy Alter.  “An open garage door with valuable property inside.”

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