For the second time in two months, Lehigh Acres Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Tice has been recognized for his police work in solving a case involving what the Sheriff's Office is calling the apprehension of a serial burglar in Lehigh.
Tice was recognized by the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce with an award presented to him from the Chamber through his commander, Capt. Ron Curtis.
In June, Curtis said a serial burglar was targeting homes on the east side of Lehigh Acres. The burglar struck 10 times in a small areas east of Joel Blvd.
The crimes and the criminal were geographically profiled and a map was created that was what police said was extremely useful in determining the serial burglar's "hunting ground."
Bravo Station detectives in Lehigh then launched an undercover operation to catch the suspect based on the profile.
Curtis said that geographic criminal profiling focuses on one aspect of crime and that is the offender's most likely location. This criminal profiling technique is extremely useful in locating and apprehending serial burglars and other felons, Curtis said. Crimes are not just at random, there's usually a pattern, he continued.
It has been said that criminals are not so different from shoppers or even predators hunting prey; they frequent the same shopping centers and hunting locations.
When an offender has committed a number of crimes, they leave behind their mental map, and the detectives can deduce certain things from that map and deploy resources appropriately.
Curtis said geoprofiling works when they put every crime location into a computer program and it produces a map showing the most probably areas that the criminal will continue to strike which is also the most probably area in which the criminal lives, Curtis said.
An undercover operation was set up to catch the suspect based on the profile and the first day of the operation the profile paid off, Curtis told the group.
Deputy Christopher Tice saw a man walking in the targeted area and attempted to approach him. The individual ran but was identified as 26-year-old James Mitchell.
"On the second day of the operation, Deputy Tice was dispatched to 1411 Roosevelt Ave., Mitchell's parents' home, where there had been a theft of an SKS assault rifle," Curtis said.
The subsequent investigation by Deputy Tice led to Mitchell confessing to the theft of the firearm from his parents, and the other 10 burglaries as well as the return of the assault rifle and most of the property to the several victims in prior thefts.
"Deputy Tice went above and beyond what is required of a patrol deputy; his dedication to the community, and to the people of Lehigh are highly commendable, and his skills as a deputy sheriff are unparalleled. He was instrumental in putting an end to this serial burglar's attack on our community and it is which great pride that I nominate Deputy Tice for the Chamber's Deputy of the Month Award. The presentation was made at the Chamber luncheon on July 31. The Chamber holds a luncheon on the last Tuesday of the month. A large crowd turned out for the July luncheon.
Gary Bright, the CEO and president of the Greater Lehigh Acres Area Chamber of Commerce, was the emcee and also recognized three other people who have served the community and the Chamber well.
There were two Members of the Month recognized. The award is sponsored by Coldwell Banker Preferred Properties and president and owner Fred Elliott presented awards to Al DeLeon and Tonda Soisson-Lawson.
DeLeon is the owner of Al DeLeon & Associates Inc., and he served as co-chairman for the Chamber's recent and first Celebrity Waiter Dinner on July 21. He was most instrumental in the success of this event, Chamber officials said.
"He not only called on businesses to sponsor tables, he also sold tickets to the event, said Chamber CEO Bright.
"In addition, he and his band Hidden Agenda provided the entertainment for the evening free of charge," Bright said. "Al also served as master of ceremonies for the evening and did a great job in keeping the people involved and 'tipping' their waiters. He also was the co-chairman of the event.
Also honored as a Member of the Month was Tonda Soisson-Lawson of Brown & Brown Insurance. She served as co-chairman for the Celebrity Waiter Dinner along with DeLeon. Bright said she was most instrumental in the success of the event. She not only called on businesses to sponsor tables, she also sold tickets to the event.
She not only called on businesses to sponsor tables, she also sold tickets to the event and worked with Hodges University to host the event at their campus and recruited the celebrity waiters for the evening.
Bright also presented the Volunteer of the Month to Catherine Sage.
She is a Monday morning volunteer at the Chamber's office at 25 Homestead Rd. in the Lehigh Towne Center.
Bright said Sage enjoys working especially with "new implants," who are planning to move to Lehigh Acres in the future.
She gives visitors in the Welcome Center information about Lehigh Acers and helps with
recommendations. She is very efficient in supporting staff with their daily tasks, Bright said.
He called her reliable, friendly and dedicated to her Chamber, which makes her very appreciated and loved by the Chamber staff.