Daraja Adero Tinsley, a suspected Ormond Beach cell-phone store robber caught in DeBary last week after a chase, has been accused of similar crimes in the past, records show.
Tinsley was charged in 2015, along with 15 others, in a high-profile crackdown of two Orlando street gangs targeting cell-phone stores.
The gangs, One-Way Boyz and Young Cutthroats, stole phones and other devices tethered to displays, according to Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.
The suspects involved in the AT&T robbery at Slayton Wireless at 374 W. Granada Boulevard on Aug. 29 allegedly pushed a clerk and ripped phones off a display.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood spotted their getaway car and law enforcers chased it until it crashed in DeBary.
Tinsley ran but was eventually taken down by a K-9 unit. The other two suspects — Wendell Harp, 18, and Sheldric J. Slater, 19 — gave up. No previous criminal charges in Florida could be found Saturday for Harp and Slater.
Tinsley, however, was on community supervision for the 2015 case when he was arrested in DeBary.
Records in Orange County show an arrest affidavit for violation of probation was filed for Tinsley in that case.
Tinsley was charged with one count of racketeering and one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering on Nov. 4, 2015. At the time, Bondi’s office said Tinsley and each of the other co-defendants faced as much as 60 years in prison.
Tinsley pleaded no contest on May 12, 2016 and was found guilty of both charges. He was sentenced to four years of community supervision, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.
Records show he was previously sentenced to two years of community supervision for crimes in Polk County including burglary and trespassing.
He was sentenced in July 2014 to two years of community supervision for a grand theft charge in Orange County, records show.
In his most recent case, Tinsley is charged with fleeing, resisting an officer without violence, grand theft, robbery and grand theft valued at $300 or more but less than $5,000.
Harp is charged with grand theft valued at $300 or more but less than $5,000 and robbery.
Slater is charged with grand theft valued at $300 or more but less than $5,000, robbery and giving a false name to law enforcement.
Crime is down in DeBary, despite a rash of car burglaries, and the River City is prepared for natural disasters. But concern remains about safety at the city’s only public school: DeBary Elementary.
Those were among the highlights of City Council member Stephen Bacon’s town hall meeting last week about public safety.
“The budget is unlimited when it comes to people’s lives and property,” Bacon said Tuesday (July 18). “Some of these kids in grammar school could be 6 feet tall at 10 years old.”
In recent weeks, Bacon has raised concerns about safety at DeBary Elementary. He referenced the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, when Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adults.
“It was horrible,” Bacon said. “If there’s one incident, I mean, that is a good reason why we should have” a school resource officer.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, one of the speakers at the town hall, agreed.
“If I had my way, I’d put a deputy in every school,” Chitwood said. “It’s just not physically feasible to do that.”
He noted that when he was police chief of Daytona Beach, he snagged a grant to pay for officers in all 10 schools in the city. But the grant runs out at the end of next year. It would cost $1.6 million to keep up the same level of staffing, said Chitwood, who took office as sheriff in January.
Bacon didn’t say how a school resource officer at DeBary Elementary school might be funded. The city already faces an increase this year in its public safety budget.
Public safety costs rise
Public safety costs for the city are projected to increase to $5.54 million, an increase of $444,393. That includes fire services, law-enforcement protection and a portion of the debt for the new $2 million fire station.
The amount proposed for fire services, $1,739,683, is a nearly 30 percent increase. The amount proposed for the Sheriff’s Office is $3.49 million, a 32 percent increase.
City staffers are proposing to use $816,000 from reserves to balance this year’s budget.
The contracts with Orange City for fire services and with the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services.
Chitwood: Crime is down
Chitwood said crime is down 20 percent during the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of 2016, though car burglaries have been “really big here.” The city’s proximity to Interstate 4 makes it a target for criminals looking for “crimes of opportunity,” Chitwood added.
“We’re on the I-4 corridor. They’re getting off and, as the councilman will tell you, they went into his subdivision and they went through that place like Sherman went through Atlanta,” Chitwood said. Bacon became a crime victim in April when a suspect got into his gated subdivison – River Oaks – and stole his convertible Corvette.
It was recovered two hours later in Sanford. Other communities in DeBary have been hit by car burglars seeking unlocked vehicles.
DeBary’s proposed budget for next year includes a $70,000 request from Chitwood for two, fixed-location license-plate readers, as well as a third moveable reader.
The readers constantly scan license plates and they send alerts to deputies if the device detects anything flagged in national or state crime databases, like stolen plates, Chitwood said.
Emergency managers, meanwhile, say DeBary and Volusia County are ready for disasters but residents need to be active participants and obey evacuation orders.
“The biggest thing you need to do is prepare your family,” said another speaker, Tom Cisco, operations coordinator for Volusia County Emergency Management. “Talk to your family about what hazards are going to affect you. And not just hurricanes. We always talk about hurricanes but there are a lot of hazards in this county that can affect you.”
DeBary Safety Coordinator Alan Williamson, also the city’s public works director, said “it’s better to overprepare than underprepare.”
“DeBary doesn’t necessarily need to evacuate. But depending on the storm, if you are in a manufactured home, you want may want to think about evacuating,” Williamson said.
The city is prepared for a range of disasters, he said.
“As far as the city, we have a comprehensive emergency management plan,” Williamson said. “We don’t plan just for hurricanes. We plan for all hazards. Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Sinkholes. Wildfires.”
DeBary residents are encouraged to attend next week’s town hall meeting about public safety hosted by City Council member Stephen Bacon.
Or they can watch Tuesday’s gathering with Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood and other officials from the comfort of their living rooms.
For that matter, anyone with a connection to the internet will have the ability to tune into the meeting, which will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 18, at City Hall, 16 Columba Road.
A majority of DeBary City Council members recently agreed to stream the town hall meeting at Bacon’s request much like they do for their meetings and workshops. But it wasn’t an easy sell.
The stream will have a disclaimer notifying viewers that the town hall isn’t an official meeting of the DeBary City Council, members said Wednesday, July 12.
Generally, the only meetings streamed on city equipment involves the City Council.
Brady: Streaming a ‘disservice’ to Chitwood
City Council member Mike Brady was against streaming Bacon’s public-safety meeting, saying it would encourage people to stay home instead of attending. Sheriff Chitwood, he said, deserves an audience.
“I think we’ve seen a decrease in attendance at our meetings because streaming is available, and people stay in the comforts of their home to watch the streaming as opposed to coming to a meeting,” Brady said. “I think it would be a disservice to our sheriff to do the streaming and him stand up here and talk to an empty room, and I think showing our
support as a city by attending is more appropriate than streaming it out and talking, again, to an empty room. The optics of it is what I don’t like.”
City Council member Lita Handy-Peters, who also serves as vice mayor, expressed discomfort about streaming, even with a disclaimer.
“If you’re gonna stream it, even if you put the disclaimer up there, it is a reflection of the council. It will be,” Handy-Peters said.
Garcia: Public wants meetings streamed
City Council member Erika Benfield suggested the meeting could be streamed on Facebook Live, as she has done during recent business-development workshops. But she agreed the city could do it after learning a staff member is already planning to volunteer his time to help Bacon with the equipment.
Mayor Bob Garcia said he’s heard from residents who like watching live streams, siding with Bacon and Benfield while empathizing with Brady.
“Mr. Brady you brought up a good point. People are not coming here, maybe by us doing that — not allowing the streaming — we’re doing a disservice to the residents and we’re not really saying we are supporting our sheriff’s department by not providing it to them.”
Garcia said he appreciated Brady’s concerns.
“I’m sorry. I need to get this out to the public. They’ve been asking for it,” Garcia said. “For us not to show it, to me, it would give the perception that we’re doing things behind their backs.”
Chitwood: Crime is down in DeBary
Bacon, in a recent email to the public, said his town hall “may be the most important meeting in the history of Debary since formation 24 years ago.”
“I have the honor of hosting this meeting on Crime and Safety to help you protect your family and your property,” Bacon wrote.
In a visit to the DeBary City Council in June, Chitwood said crime dropped 20 percent in the River City during the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of 2016. Still, crime concerns remain.
Then, in May, a DeBary woman’s car was stolen while she was pumping gas into it at the Kangaroo station at U.S. Highway 17-92 and Dirksen Drive on Thursday.
In June, four suspects, all from Sanford, drove to DeBary in a stolen pickup, committed a rash of car burglaries in DeBary Golf and Country Club and Glen Abbey and then stole another pickup, records say.
Bacon’s town-hall lineup also includes Orange City Fire Chief Ronnie Long. DeBary contracts with the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services and contracts with Orange City for fire protection.
Tom Cisco, an operations official for Volusia County Emergency Management and Alan Williamson, DeBary’s safety coordinator, are also scheduled to attend.
She said the thief almost hit her with her own car as he headed south toward Sanford. She said she didn’t lock her car “because I was standing right there and if you lock it you can’t open the gas cap.”
Kerkhof said her insurance company and the Sanford Infiniti dealership are trying to “undo” the damage to the vehicle.
“It’s not wrecked but was abused and filthy and did have some damage,” she said recently in Facebook. “I have felt some pretty strong emotions and right now [and I] am mad that some of us work very hard for what we have and that someone feels free to steal it.”