MARION COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Law enforcement in four different Florida counties are trying to track down the burglar, or burglars, behind a rash of daytime break-ins and thefts, and possibly a murder.
According to sheriff's offices in Marion, Alachua, Levy, and Citrus counties, burglars have forced their way into dozens of homes during the day since mid-January, but in all but one case, no one was home.
Captain Brian Dotten with the Marion County Sheriff's Office said, "They are experienced. It appears they know what they're doing."
Because they are still investigating, and because last Friday a new scary twist to the investigation entered the equation, Captain Dotten did not care to share too many details.
According to the Citrus County Sheriff, 71-year-old Don Terryl Plumeri was murdered Friday inside his Dunnelon home. Investigators believe he was the victim of a daytime burglary, and that whoever broke in didn't expect anyone to be at home.
Investigators it's possible whoever killed Plumeri is responsible for the dozens of burglaries in all four counties over the past three months. "The homicide was vicious, it was brutal. and when you have a crime like that in the community it sure does elevate the situation we're in," said Citrus County Sheriff Jeffrey Dawsy.
Since Plumeri's murder, the Sheriff's Office has been making automated phone calls telling neighbor's to lock their doors and windows and to be on the lookout. Marion County's Captain Dotten stresses the latter. He said they really need the public's help on this one.
If you see anything, hear anything, know anything, or think you know anything, call the Sheriff's Office. It could be that one little piece of information that helps stop the burglars, maybe even killers, in their tracks.
Captain Dotten said, "If they are related, that means they are capable. They could possibly strike again and escalate to that level but we're hoping to catch them before that happens."