Sanibel Police are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the recent string of burglaries along the Sanibel beachfront.
At least 15 cases of burglar intrusions have been reported since just before Thanksgiving, most of those occurring at resort condos from the 500 block of East Gulf Drive to the 3400 block of West Gulf Drive in the late afternoon or early evening hours.
"We just don't have any strong leads and we're sick of dealing with it," said Sanibel Police Chief William Tomlinson. "The hope is if we make the reward large enough that it will prompt someone will come forward with information to catch this thief. Our primary objective is to make it go away."
Sanibel Police never before have had to offer a reward to help solve a case. Tomlinson said the $25,000 cash will come from the city's beach parking fund.
Crime Stoppers, which offers $1,000 for information leading to an arrest, hopes Sanibel's extra reward money will result in one or more arrests in the crime spree.
"These crimes could have been avoided if residents had taken the single step of locking their doors when they left," Crime Stoppers Coordinator Trish Routte said in a press bulletin. "Even if you're only going to be gone for a short amount of time, make sure all doors especially sliding glass doors are locked. Criminals can clean house in just a few minutes time."
Thousands of dollars in cash and jewelry have been taken in the string of incidents through the latest incident last Friday. Despite pleas by police for people to secure their doors and windows, the thief continues to gain access through unlocked doors.
Tomlinson said his department has sent flyers to condo managers asking them to alert residents and guests that a burglar is working the area.
"Some of the managers have spread the word and some of them have not," said Tomlinson. "Lock your doors, especially the sliders, and secure your belongings. Be alert for suspicious activity."
Anyone with information on these burglaries is asked to call Sanibel Police at 472-3111 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477). All callers will remain anonymous and will be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000 from Crime Stoppers, plus the $25,000 from the Sanibel Police Department.
Tips also can be made online at www.swflcrimestoppers.org.