Local Crime Watch: Nov 21

MAIT Investigates Crash Involving Sheriff’s Deputies

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, deputies assigned to the Major Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) are investigating a deputy involved crash in unincorporated St. Petersburg, where one deputy was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.

According to investigators, On Sunday, November 17, at about 1 a.m., Deputy Denise Duran, 45, was on-duty and driving her fully marked 2010 Ford Crown Victoria eastbound on 38th Avenue North and was attempting to make a northbound turn onto 49th Street North.

Investigators say Leilani Smith, 32, was traveling westbound on 38th Avenue North in her 2003 Mercury Grand Marquis, approaching the intersection for 49th Street North.

The traffic light for both westbound and eastbound traffic on 38th Avenue North was yellow as Deputy Duran made a northbound turn on 49th Street, and into the path of Smith, who struck the passenger side of the agency vehicle.

Deputy Nazir Amin, 33, was a passenger in the agency vehicle and was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries. He has since been released from the hospital.

Deputy Duran and Smith were not injured. 

During the investigation, Smith showed signs of impairment. She was subsequently arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence and Refusal to Submit to Testing. 

Smith was transported to the Pinellas County Jail without incident. The investigation continues. 


St. Petersburg Police Seek Help in Hit and Run Crash at the Pinellas Trail on 49th Street

The St. Petersburg Police Department is asking for the public’s help to identify the driver in a hit and run crash involving a bicyclist. 

On November 1, a white Chrysler 200 sedan struck a bicyclist as he was crossing 49th Street on the Pinellas Trail (666 49th Street S.). According to video of the scene, the driver stopped to move the bicycle out of the roadway and drove off.

The victim suffered broken bones, but his injuries are not life-threatening. 

Moments before Weldon entered the crosswalk, one of two cyclists crossing the same crosswalk from the opposite side of the street pressed the button to activate the flashing lights to stop traffic. When Weldon entered the crosswalk, the lights were still flashing and he had crossed half of 49th Street South when the suspect’s vehicle hit him.

Although police say the bicyclist could have exercised more caution and stopped, he had the right of way and won’t face any charges. It is the law that drivers must stop if there is anyone in a crosswalk. The driver who hit him was obligated to stay at the scene until police arrived.

If anyone has any information about the identity of the driver of the white sedan involved, please contact the St. Petersburg Police Department at 727-893-7780.


Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Warns Residents of Duke Energy Phone Scam

In a press release from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office dated November 15, officials are encouraging the public to be on alert to a recent phone scam involving callers posing as Duke Energy employees.

According to detectives, residents receive a phone call from someone claiming to be an employee of Duke Energy. The scammers have “spoofed” or programed their call to read as Duke Energy on the victim’s caller ID, appearing to make the scam call that much more believable.

The caller informs the citizen that they are past due on their electric bill and need to pay immediately to avoid having their electricity turned off.

Detectives say the caller instructs residents to go and purchase a gift card or a re-loadable debit card from a retail store. The caller provides a call-back number and explains how the victim needs to provide the numbers from the card they purchased to satisfy the past due payment.

Detectives say at least five residents of Pinellas County have been targeted by this scam since Veteran’s Day.

Detectives encourage citizens to never make payment over the phone when they have received an incoming call and have not confirmed the call is legitimate. 

Citizens should never call the number back that is provided to them over the phone and should instead look up the correct phone number on their billing statement or online. Citizens can then confirm if they have a payment past due and make sure payment goes to the actual company.

As a reminder, most scam phone callers will ask for the citizen to obtain gift cards and call back with the gift card numbers.

If you feel you have been a victim of this scam or a similar one, please call the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Unit at 582-6200.

A sampling of police reports from November 7 through November 15 in Gulfport, South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach.

Source: Gulfport Police Department and Pinellas County Crime Viewer


11/7 – Theft in the 4900 block of 17th Avenue South. A male took multiple lighters and ear buds from a store and left without paying for them.

11/7 – Burglary/conveyance in the 6200 block of 8th Avenue South. Two gas cans were stolen from the back of trailer overnight. 

11/7 – Dating violence in the 5400 block of Shore Boulevard. Officers were dispatched in reference to a male and female having a physical altercation in the street. According to the witness, the female threw the male’s phone across the street and when the male retrieved his phone, he shoved her several times. Because the male and female are in a dating relationship this falls under the domestic violence statute. Although the female was not cooperative with the officers, the witness statement was enough to make an arrest for dating violence. The male was arrested and transported to the Pinellas County Jail.

11/7 – Warrant arrest in the 5700 block of 18th Avenue South. Officers located Douglas Engle who had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear on a criminal traffic charge. Engle was arrested and transported to the Pinellas County Jail.

11/8 – Stolen vehicle in the 2700 block of Tifton Street South. A vehicle was stolen from the rear of a residence sometime overnight. The key fob was left inside the vehicle. The car was recovered a short time later after it was involved in a minor hit-and-run accident in St. Petersburg. 

11/8 – Traffic stop/arrest on warrant at the corner of 15th Avenue South and Gulfport Boulevard South. Officer McIntyre noticed a vehicle with an inoperable tail light/brake light. A records check on the license plate revealed that the registered owner had an outstanding warrant. He initiated a traffic stop at that time and discovered that the driver of the vehicle was the registered owner. Yolanda Allen was arrested on a warrant for obtaining property in return for worthless checks. She was transported to the Pinellas County Jail.

11/9 – Warrant arrest in the 4900 block of 25th Avenue South. Officer Dillard saw Ralph Cleveland riding a bicycle down 25th Avenue South and conducted a stop due to an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Cleveland was taken into custody for the warrant and a search of his pockets revealed a bag of methamphetamine in his cigarette pack.

11/9 – Theft in the 5700 block of Gulfport Boulevard South. A store manager reported that three females stole various items by placing them into a purse and a shopping cart then exiting the store without paying for the items. The suspects were last seen walking northbound away from the store.

11/10 – Arrest on warrant at the corner of 15th Avenue South and 49th Street South. Officer Clague was conducting an investigation and made contact with a man on the phone. The man was not aware of the fact that Officer Clague was a police officer and he arranged to meet with Gibbs to buy narcotics. Gibbs had active felony for probable cause relating to fleeing and eluding. Gibbs arrived to meet with Officer Clague and fled when he saw that he was a police officer. Gibbs ran into a store and was caught inside the store. He was charged with resisting an officer with violence in addition to the probable cause charge. 

11/11 – Stolen vehicle in the 2500 block of 57th Street South. A resident reported that sometime overnight, someone stole his vehicle from his driveway. Later in the day, the victim was advised by his bank that several charges were being made from his credit cards at Tyrone Square Mall. The manager of Champs Sports advised that 4-5 males in their late teens had made several purchases using the cards. The St. Petersburg Police Department was requested to go by the mall and attempt to locate the vehicle.

11/11 – Burglary to a residence in the 5200 block of 8th Avenue South. A resident reported that two bicycles were stolen from his garage sometime in the last two weeks.

11/11 – Arrest on warrant at the corner of Beach Boulevard and Gulfport Boulevard South. Officer Bynum made contact with a juvenile riding a bicycle without lights. The juvenile had a pickup order for battery. Once the order was confirmed, the juvenile was arrested and transported to the Pinellas Juvenile Assessment Center.

11/11 – Arrest on warrant at the corner of 11th Avenue South and 51st Street South. Officer Clague stopped Michael Engle for a bicycle violation. Engle had an outstanding warrant for driving without a license.  He was arrested and transported to the Pinellas County Jail.

11/12 – Gun shots heard in the 5100 block of Newton Avenue South. Officers responded to a call of gun shots heard in the area of 53rd Street South and 18th Avenue South. As officers were circulating the area, they heard several more gunshots in the area of Newton Avenue South and 51st Street South. Officers heard a total of five volleys of gunfire, but were unable to locate the source.  

11/13 – Suspicious vehicle in the 5100 block of Tangerine Avenue South. Officers responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle. When they approached the vehicle, it fled the area at a high rate of speed. The vehicle was last seen fleeing east bound on 15th Avenue South.

11/7 through 11/13 — The marine unit was on the water for approximately six hours this week. Marine unit officers conducted two vessel stops.


11/10, 1:26 p.m., 2000 block of 52nd Street S

11/14, 11 p.m., 2900 block of 50th Street S

Burglary – vehicle

11/13, 11:19 p.m., 2500 block of 57th Street S

11/13, 11:30 p.m., 3000 block of 50th Street S


11/13, 7:09 p.m., 5700 block of Gulfport Boulevard S

11/15, 3:39 p.m., 5000 block of Gulfport Boulevard S

Theft – petit

11/10, midnight, 5200 block of 8th Avenue S

11/12, midnight, 6000 block of Shore Boulevard

11/14, 5 p.m., 2000 block of Gray Street S

11/15, 6:30 p.m., 4500 block of 27th Avenue S

Theft – vehicle

11/10, 11 p.m., 2500 block of 57th Street S

11/13, 10:20 p.m., 5100 block of Preston Avenue S


11/11, 8:20 p.m., 53rd Street S and Newton Avenue S

South Pasadena


11/14, 10:13 p.m., 1500 block of Pasadena Avenue S

Burglary – vehicle

11/11, 5 p.m., 7000 block of Grevilla Avenue S

11/11, 8 p.m., 7000 block of Hibiscus Avenue S

Theft – grand

11/14, midnight, 7300 block of Sun Island Drive S


11/13, 12:15 p.m., 6800 block of Gulfport Boulevard S

St. Pete Beach


11/10, 12:35 a.m., 3800 block of Gulf Boulevard

Burglary – structure

11/11, 8:19 p.m., 3700 block of Gulf Boulevard

Burglary – vehicle

11/9, 1:20 a.m., 5300 block of Gulf Boulevard

11/16, 4:45 p.m., 6300 block of Gulf Winds Drive

Theft – grand

11/8, 11:21 p.m., 7900 block of Blind Pass Road


11/15, 10:55 a.m., 300 block of 75th Avenue

Vandalism – criminal mischief

11/12, 6 p.m., 6900 block of Sunset Way

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