Criminals are opportunistic. An easy target, a lack of witnesses, a dimly-lit location, a distracted victim all dramatically improve a criminal’s ability to easily commit a crime.
One’s best defense is to eliminate, or significantly reduce, one’s vulnerability!
Criminals scout locations and conditions where the likelihood of being detected is low. Dark and desolate parking lots, people texting or using their smartphones, shoppers carrying an armful of items…all examples of creating an ideal opportunity for theft or assault.
Be alert and aware of your surroundings. If you’re absorbed in a phone conversation, texting, surfing the internet on your smartphone, you significantly improve a criminal’s chances to victimize you.
Keep your hands free and your head up. Look around. Trust your instincts. If someone or someplace makes you feel uneasy, there is likely a good reason for feeling that way. Avoid those situations.
Closely monitor your personal effects! Shopping bags, car keys/fobs, handbags and cellular devices are easily grabbed.
Ask for assistance! If you are alone and uncomfortable, walk to an area that is more populated. Never hesitate to ask security or law enforcement to escort you out of an uncomfortable situation. Travelling with others increases the number of witnesses and decreases criminal opportunity.
While purchasing a new or pre-owned vehicle online has become a common and popular practice, so has online vehicle sale fraud!
The truck looks immaculate…just what you have been looking for! Low mileage, original owner, no accidents…a dream come true! The price, based upon mileage and condition, seems incredible.
Great deals on cars and trucks do exist. Many online vehicle purchasers swear by the process and have found incredible bargains on the internet.But everything that glitters is not gold.
Criminals regularly post false advertisements and photographs of vehicles that are not for sale and usually belong to someone else. You will receive additional photos, upon request, along with a heart-wrenching story of why they need to sell their beloved vehicle at a bargain price.
“It was Aunt Tilly’s favorite…rest her soul!”
“I received it as part of a divorce settlement and have no use for it.”
“My brother is being deployed overseas and the car will just be sitting here.”
Often, criminals use reputable companies to initially lure you in…such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace or other online selling sites…leading the buyer to believe that the deal is legitimate.
This is when the transaction begins to go sideways…You may be sent a third-party toll-free number, asked to pay with gift cards or asked to wire money. You may be asked to send a small amount, to serve as a deposit, to ensure that it isn’t sold to someone else.
Exercise extreme caution!
Ask for the vehicle identification number (VIN) and current license plate information.
Insist on inspecting the vehicle IN PERSON prior to purchase.
Inspect title and lien information prior to making any payment or deposit.
Over a three-year period, the FBI has received nearly 30,000 complaints of fraudulent vehicle sales exceeding $57,000,000.Don’t be the next victim!
He’s survived the clutches of an alligator’s jaw, and now he’s reporting for duty. I’m talking of course about Gunner, now Detective Gunner as he was recently deputized by Sheriff Carmine Marceno.
Gunner made national headlines after a Florida Wildlife Federation video was released of his father, Rick Wilbanks, rescuing the five-week-old puppy from the grip of an alligator. The now-famous video showed Rick jumping into the lake and prying the gator’s jaws open to rescue his puppy, all while never dropping his cigar.
Wilbanks told CapeStyle Magazine that he had just gotten the puppy from the breeder and had no idea the incident was recorded. But the daring rescue was recorded, and Rick and Gunner won the hearts of Americans everywhere.
One of those individuals was Sheriff Carmine Marceno, who believed that Gunner and his story could help educate people about water safety. In a ceremony last week, Gunner raised his right paw and swore an oath to the Constitution, making him the newest Deputy Dog as a detective and “safety officer” due to his personal experience. Detective Gunner is now authorized to give official tips about safety and reports directly to Lt. Bosco.
Rick, who developed a close relationship with Sheriff Marceno, is excited that Gunner can serve his community.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Rick told CapeStyle Magazine. “Taking something that could have been a tragedy and turning it into something good. I’m happy.”
Starting in January, Detective Gunner will be going to schools to talk about water safety, visit children and the elderly in hospitals and assisted living facilities, eventually even educating teenagers about driver safety.
“It [Gunner’s story] will start a conversation with people,” said Amy Dell Aquila, the Sheriff’s Community Liaison. “Conversations about how this happened, how to avoid this.”
Saturday was Detective Gunner’s first official day on the job. Stationed at the Community Resource Center at the new Brotherhood of Heroes Museum & Resource Center, Gunner was available for photos with individuals coming in for a Christmas food giveaway.
Also attending the event were Cape Coral’s newest State Representative, Mike Giallombardo, and recently elected City Councilman Tom Hayden, both of whom helped distributed food to local families.
The Deputy Dogs program is a recent program which engages the community using superhero-like “deputy dogs”, spreading specific messages about safety to Lee County residents and guests. The first deputy dog was Deputy Chance, Sheriff Marceno’s own rescue dog, who is now Lee County’s Goodwill Ambassador.
Deputy Chance has since been joined by a team of capable deputies, including Lt. Bosco, Kylo, Bowden, and Dasher. Some deputy dogs have specific skills. For example, GiGi is the deputy’s animal abuse analyst, Mad Dog is an undercover operative, and the bloodhounds Maggie and Mercy search for missing children.
Cape Coral has their own patron deputy dog as well, named Prince. Prince, or “The Prince of Cape Coral” is a debonair poodle who is the team’s public relations officer. Who’s a good boy, representing his hometown? Prince is!
In fact, all these deputy dogs are good boys and girls, serving their communities. Detective Gunner is in good company.
Today, October 16th marks 27 years since a Fort Myers man was burned to death in his car in a remote part of rural east Lee County.
Although the murder of David Comparetto remains unsolved, Crime Stoppers is hopeful that someone in the know will finally come forward after all these years.
On October 16, 1993, 30-year old David Comparetto left his part-time job at a Fort Myers Publix store around 8:30 p.m. and was never heard from again. Later that night, his car was found on fire in east Lee County. Sadly, David’s body was found inside the trunk. From the very beginning, investigators have felt that the person or persons responsible for David’s murder may have frequented Mermaid’s strip club, where David was also known to spend time.
Now, as the 27th anniversary of David’s murder approaches, his family, investigators and Crime Stoppers are pleading with the community to finally identify David’s killer or killers.
“The answers are out there – they always have been,” said Trish Routte, Crime Stoppers Coordinator.
“For whatever reason, people who know who did this horrific thing to David have remained quiet all these years, and it’s time for the silence to come to an end. David’s family should not have to endure one more year without seeing justice served. His killer or killers do not deserve one more day of freedom and, most importantly, David needs to finally rest in peace.”
Anyone with information about the 1993 murder of David Comparetto 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 $3,000.
On October 7, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint regarding a dog with a rope embedded in its neck.
A local rescue learned about the situation and reached out to Lee County Domestic Animal Services. Due to the nature of the incident, LCDAS notified the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, and the Animal Cruelty Task Force assumed the investigation.
Detectives responded to the 800 Block of Andalusia Boulevard in Cape Coral and located the suspect, Robert Callahan (DOB 7/10/80).
Detectives learned that Callahan did not have a proper collar for his dog, Charlie, so he used a rope to tether him in the backyard. The rope caused a severe, gaping wound to the entire width of Charlie’s neck.
“This disgusting act against an animal has me outraged,” stated Sheriff Carmine Marceno. “This is exactly why my Animal Cruelty Task Force is in place.”
Charlie was taken to a local animal hospital, where he received surgery to close the large wound on his neck. A physical examination of Charlie revealed the animal was flea-ridden and extremely emaciated. The veterinarian stated the injuries were consistent with being kept on a rope outside for an extended period of time with no care.
Charlie is currently in recovery. Animal Cruelty Detectives established probable cause to arrest Callahan and charge him with aggravated animal cruelty.
“Callahan is right where he belongs – in the Lee County Jail,” stated Sheriff Carmine Marceno.
The Cape Coral Animal Shelter (CCAS) has announced that it will be partnering with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) to enroll select dogs in the Cell Dog Program. This important program gives shelter dogs a second chance and Lee County inmates the opportunity to learn from each other to create better lives for all involved. These dogs find a forever home along with learning basic obedience skills and Lee County inmates gain an educational program to better themselves
All dogs go through basic obedience training—sit and stay, housebreaking, crate training, leash-walking—all skills that will prepare them for adoption. Deputy First Class Scott Dunn and Deputy First Class Howard Hawkins, Cell Dog Program Coordinators, have been involved with the program since 2010. Both Deputies are certified Canine Good Citizen Evaluators, certified Dog Trainers through the Animal Behavioral College, and Canine Good Citizen Dog Safety Instructors.
The Animal Shelter opened its doors on March 19th and has since done over 400 adoptions.
“CCAS is excited to participate in this very important program. We believe all the animals entering our shelter deserve a second chance at a happy life. Some of these dogs have been through so much in their young lives. Finding structure, receiving human interaction, training, and unconditional love—it makes all the difference as they find their forever family and go home!” said JoAnn Elardo, President of the Cape Coral Animal Shelter Board of Directors.
In May, a dog named Bouncer arrived at CCAS. Bouncer was found as a puppy alongside a road in DeSoto County, left in a bag to suffocate. He was rescued by a DeSoto County Sheriff and held for months as part of a criminal investigation.
According to Liz McCauley, Executive Director, “By the time he came to us at nine months old, he was a puppy in a very big, strong body. He had no training but the sweetest personality. He was a handful!” Fortunately, he has spent the last few months in the Cell Dog training program and has made great progress. He requires a very specific home, but with the guidance of his trainers and CCAS, he is ready for parole.
Today Amos and Sam are “going to jail” to hone their skills and help them get adopted. All dogs in the cell dog program will be available for adoption to qualified homes at any time.