Beach Blanket Thefts Result in Arrest on North Beach
A Clearwater man was walking the sand with a stolen backpack containing other stolen items Wednesday afternoon, according to Clearwater Police.
A beach blanket thief was nabbed after police saw the suspect circling beachgoers' property Wednesday afternoon.
Robert W. Heinlein, 34, was arrested and charged with two counts of theft and an outstanding warrant after police saw him walking around beach blankets at 4:16 p.m. near the 400 block of Mandalay Avenue.
When officers made contact with Heinlein, they found out he had an outstanding warrant. He also had a stolen backpack filled with other ill-gotten goods, according to police.
There were two stolen cellphones that were returned to the victims who were able to be located in the area, according to police.
There were at least four beach blanket thefts over the March 17-18 weekend, according to a post on the Clearwater Police Facebook page. All the items — including mp3 players, wallets and cash — were left unattended.
In February, a woman was arrested and charged after police say she tried to steal hot sauce from Crabby's Beachwalk Bar and Grill. She also had taken items from beachgoers' blankets nearby.
Police remind beachgoers to protect their valuables and not leave them unattended.
"It simply comes down to more people equals more opportunity," said Elizabeth Watts, police spokeswoman. "If the beach is more crowded, when a thief comes across a beach blanket and sees a bag or a cellphone or something else valuable, it’s easier for them to pick it up and walk away unnoticed. So these 'crimes of opportunity' are not uncommon when we have an increased number of people at the beach."