Lee County Sheriff’s Office: Massive car theft ring dismantled; more suspects sought.

In late 2014, detectives with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation into the theft of several Ford F-series trucks.  These thefts continued through the first few weeks of 2015, during which time several businesses in the Lehigh Acres and central Fort Myers area were impacted.  Detectives compared notes and discovered that near the locations of these vehicle thefts, there were also large clusters of burglaries occurring during those same time frames.  Last month, many of these vehicles stolen in the weeks prior were being discovered in the Crescent Acres community in Lee County that borders Glades and Hendry Counties.  As the vehicle recoveries continued, Lee County detectives determined that our area was not the only jurisdiction affected by what was becoming a quickly growing trend.  Once information began to be shared between detectives from Hendry, Glades, Collier and Lee Counties, several possible persons of interest were quickly identified.  In looking through the criminal histories of these individuals, investigators learned that these suspects had a lengthy history of the same types of thefts in Charlotte County, as well.

The primary suspect in the investigation was identified as Eddie Deleon, DOB 8/21/79.  Detectives immediately began working closely with their counterparts from other law enforcement agencies in Southwest Florida to secure probable cause for the arrest of Deleon, who was a known offender in Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties.  With the assistance of the US Marshals Office, Deleon was taken into custody in the Sarasota area within a matter of days.  During an interview with Deleon, after his arrest, he provided investigators with information on his involvement with multiple business burglaries in Lee, Hendry and Collier Counties.  He described how he and his co-conspirators honed their trade by watching instructional videos on the internet, teaching them how to break into cars and bypass ignition switches.  He also admitted to being under the influence of Methamphetamine during the commission of most of these crimes.  It was his addiction to the drug that motivated him to commit the crimes in order to feed his habit.  However, after seeing himself profiled by Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers for being a repeat criminal offender, Deleon stated that his motivation to commit the crimes changed, and that his goal was, from that point on, to taunt authorities.  As a result of the coordinated efforts of several law enforcement agencies, probable cause was established to charge Deleon with numerous felony crimes.  In total, Deleon is currently facing in excess of 20 felony charges for his involvement with several business burglaries and motor vehicle thefts in Hendry County.  He was also found to be a suspect in a grand theft auto case out of Glades County, and once Deleon is extradited back to Lee County, he will be facing more than 40 additional felony charges for his involvement with burglaries and car thefts here.  In addition, he is also a suspect in similar criminal activity in Collier, Sarasota and Charlotte Counties.

As a result of a large, collaborative effort with the affected agencies, additional arrests for this auto theft ring were made, to include David Ressie Dix, DOB 10/23/65.  During the hunt for Deleon, Dix was found in possession of one of the stolen vehicles taken from one of the first affected businesses.  He later used this vehicle in an attempted trailer theft in Hendry County.  Last month, Dix committed a grand theft at a local grocery store, which ultimately led to his arrest.  He was later charged by Lee County detectives for his involvement with the trailer theft.  Dix still remains a suspect in several of the other crimes committed during this spree.

A third suspect was identified as Dennis Lamar Flint, DOB 12/4/65, who was apprehended by US Marshals after a warrant was issued for his arrest stemming from his alleged involvement with the theft of a boat in the McGregor Boulevard area of Fort Myers.  Detectives from both Hendry and Lee County learned that Flint had brokered a deal to sell the motor from the stolen boat, which was later recovered.  Prior to being taken into custody on that charge, Flint was also identified as a suspect in the stolen boat investigation from Hendry County.  That boat was ultimately recovered in Lehigh Acres near a home which Flint was known to frequent.  The motor from this boat was recovered at a home in Glades County in late January.

A fourth suspect in this case was identified at Charles W. Sikes, DOB 5/28/86.  Sikes is accused of working with Flint, including the sale of a stolen boat motor to an individual in Glades County.  As a result of this case, Hendry County detectives were granted a warrant for Sikes’ arrest for his involvement.

“The arrests of these four men, and the charges being levied against them, is a perfect example of how many crimes can be solved when agencies work together,” said Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott.  “The cooperation of multiple agencies has led to the halt of a very active and aggressive auto theft ring, which impacted many communities in Southwest Florida.  All we need now are a few other pieces of the puzzle to ensure that all parties involved with this operation are brought to justice.

As of today, all four suspects have been taken into custody for their alleged crimes, which span nearly every pocket of Southwest Florida.  However, detectives firmly believe that there are others who have had involvement in this string of crimes, and they are asking for the public’s help identifying those individuals so that they, too, can have their day in court.  Anyone with information on any vehicle or boat theft, or burglary which may be linked to Deleon, Dix, Flint or Sikes, is asked to call 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.  Tips may also be made online at www.swflcrimestoppers.org or by texting a tip to CRIMES (274637).