String of beachside burglaries lead to two arrests, more charges possible

VERO BEACH – The recent capture of the suspected beachside burglar could mean the end of a two-month string of home robberies on the barrier island that may have included break-ins both inside and outside the city limits.

Vero Beach Police Officer John Morrison arrested 30-year-old Jeremiah McCain on Dec. 21. McCain has been charged  with seven home burglaries in the Central Beach area alone dating back to late October.

More charges are being considered by the Sheriff’s office for similar criminal activity mainly in the southern barrier island. Since Nov. 1 there have seven burglaries with  within the sheriff’s jurisdiction  that match the break-ins for which McCain is being charged.

Also over the weekend, police charged 26-year-old Johnathan Hillsman with six counts of third degree grand theft and dealing in stolen property.

Hillsman reportedly had three large-screen televisions in his possession that are believed connected to burglaries that are tied to McCain. He remains in county jail on $146,000 bond.

The arrest of McCain came about with good old-fashioned police work and a little luck. Officer Morrison was responding to a report of a break-in at 2300 Pine Avenue when he spotted a vehicle on U.S. 1 similar to one that had been mentioned by citizens reporting suspicious activity in light of the crime spree.

“We had received a lot of tips over the last month with vehicle descriptions and about an hour before I spotted the vehicle, we had a burglary at 2300 Pine Avenue and so we were in that area about a block away from Treasure Coast Jewelry,” Officer Morrison said. “I spotted a gold Chrysler Pacifica come out of the parking lot. He pulled out kind of aggressively and made a quick turn and headed north on U.S. 1.”

Officer Morrison noticed the Pacifica had a Missouri tag and that some of the information police had received was that a suspicious vehicle had a white tag with blue letters as is the case with Missouri license plates.

Morrison followed the vehicle down U.S. 1 and when it pulled into the Kane’s Appliance parking lot at 2470 U.S. 1, McCain got out of his vehicle and surrendered.

“I never turned on  my lights or anything I just pulled in behind him and the driver got out and started walking back toward me and basically said to me, ‘How are you doing?’ I said fine, ‘Can I see your driver’s license,'” Officer Morrison said. “He didn’t have one on him and he gave me some information that wasn’t accurate and at that time he basically said, ‘You got me.'”

Rosemary White is a member of the Central Beach Crime Watch, which has closely monitored  the burglaries. She said while relieved that this seems to mark the end of this current crime wave, residents need to remain aware of their surroundings.

“I told my neighbors we can’t let our guard down, we need to be vigilant and we need to be aware of anything that is out of the ordinary because as we know, people move from area to area,” she said.

McCain remains in the county jail on multiple burglary and related charges with bail set at $692,500. His first court date is scheduled for Feb. 7.

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