A man arrested last week following a break-in at a Winter Park Walgreens is now linked to up to 40 Orlando-area burglaries. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office says Wesley Burruss targeted drugstores and small, family restaurants in order to support his drug habit.
In a three-month string of burglaries, video surveillance footage showed a stocky man wearing gloves using a yellow and black crowbar to smash out the windows of drugstores and restaurants. He would then pry open the cash register to access the money inside. When available, he would also steal cigarettes and carry them away in a trash bin.
On March 19, deputies pursued a Mitsubishi minivan fleeing the scene of a Walgreens burglary on US Highway 17-92. The driver eventually ditched the vehicle and took off on foot. A woman left behind in the passenger seat admitted to her involvement in the break-in and identified the driver as Burruss. She told deputies she and Burruss planned to use the money to purchase and smoke crack cocaine. The woman had the suspect’s cell phone number and helped police track him down.
Inside Burruss’s abandoned vehicle, deputies found a pair of yellow and black gloves, a yellow and black crowbar and a small garbage can full of cigarettes, linking him to the additional burglaries.
This was far from Burruss’s first encounter with law enforcement. Deputies say he’s a career criminal and a registered sex offender with a record that stretches back to 1989. He has prior arrests for burglary, robbery, theft and sexual battery among other crimes.
During questioning, Burruss admitted to at least 10 of the burglaries and told investigators he needs help for his longtime crack addiction.
Burruss is charged with criminal mischief, burglary of a structure, grand theft, fleeing a police officer, burglary of a structure while wearing a mask and petty theft.
Without the businesses’ security systems and video surveillance footage, Burruss’s crime spree would have gone on much longer. FBI crime statistics show there are more than half a million commercial burglaries each year and experts estimate 74% of uncompleted break-ins can be credited to an audible alarm siren.