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Sunday, Jun 17, 2018
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Deputies: Prolific cat burglar arrested in New Port Richey

NEW PORT RICHEY — Holding a large ringed binder, Property Crimes Detective Jennifer Zoccoli gave an example of how Pasco deputies caught a burglary suspect.

Shawn William Culver, 42, was arrested July 21 and has been connected to at least 29 cat burglaries in the Embassy Hills neighborhood in New Port Richey.

“This binder is pretty much all the different documents, paperwork, everything we had to put into it to try and identify this guy,” Zoccoli said during a press conference Tuesday morning at the Pasco Sheriff’s Office in New Port Richey.

The agency’s Intelligence Led Policing unit put together a report detailing crimes in the county, which it does weekly. Zoccoli noticed a trend of overnight, residential burglaries that began in late April and early May.

During that time, deputies say Culver broke into 14 homes and attempted to enter 15 others. There were four home he attempted to enter twice.

“All burglaries are bad. A cat burglary is especially bad,” said Lt. Brian Prescott of the ILP unit. “Why? Because it’s putting a criminal within inches of a sleeping victim. So that became priority No. 1 for our agency, to go out and apprehend this guy as soon as possible.”

The information gathered led to a sting in the same 1.5 mile radius that the burglary suspect frequented. On the night of July 19, a detective witnessed a suspect go to the side of a home, attempting to break in, authorities said. The suspect, who was wearing the same clothing as a male caught by a surveillance camera during a previous break-in attempt, ran from deputies and evaded a K-9 search.

Culver was arrested two days later at his home.

“This case is a prime example of how technology mixed in with good old fashioned police work can solve cases,” said Sgt. William Lawless, head of the sheriff’s office’s property crimes unit.

Lawless has had previous dealings with Culver. In the late 1980s, he arrested Culver, who went by the name Shawn Blaskey, after similar cat burglaries in the Holiday Lake Estates neighborhood, deputies said.

“One thing we know is most criminals strike very close to where they live,” Prescott said. “We know that. They’re creatures of habit. They do the same thing, the same way because it works for them. They generally don’t mix things up. We’re glad they don’t mix things up because that’s one of the ways we catch them.”

Culver, Zoccoli said, stole purses, wallets, bags, small electronics, and used debit and credit cards at gas stations during his recent spree.

Fraud charges will be pursued because of the credit card use. Just under $4,000 was spent by Culver with those cards, she said.

He remains in the Land O’ Lakes jail with a $370,150 bond.

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