The Hillsborough County, Fla., Sheriff's Office deputies who were called to investigate a nighttime burglar on August 21, 2013 were able to close a series of freshly-committed crimes and arrest the suspect, identified as 21-year-old Joseph Nicholas Kovacevic.
Kovacevic was acting independently as he roamed the large South Pointe subdivision in Riverview, Fla., right around midnight. Riverview is an unincorporated city approximately 18 miles southeast of Tampa, Fla.
After Kovacevic utilized a knife to cut screens leading to homes, rummaged through several unlocked cars he burglarized, and portended to be a police officer --donning a ballistic vest with POLICE insignia across it and dangling handcuffs from his waistband-- a neighbor who overheard some commotion came out and announced himself.
Kovacevic attempted to hide among nearby shrubbery. The neighbor of one of the burglarized victims asked Kovacevic to identify himself. Kovacevic emerged from the bushes and declared his identity, albeit a false and illegal one.
Kovacevic retorted to the neighbor "I am the police!"
Kovacevic then fled. The neighbor called 9-1-1 and provided acute details, including the suspect's direction of travel, to responding Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) deputies.
As deputies saturated the subdivision, Kovacevic was located a few blocks from the blitz of burglaries deputies believe he committed. When located sitting inside a Dodge Neon, deputies approached with caution and immediately observed Kovacevic wearing a ballistic vest with "POLICE" wording across it as well as a set of handcuffs tucked into his pants waistline.
Kovacevic also possessed a knife on his person when apprehended.
Once in custody and positively identified by the aforementioned neighbor/witness, HCSO deputies interviewed Kovacevic on scene and determined he was in possession of stolen car keys, flashlight, cigarettes, $3.00 in U.S. currency, and police equipment taken from the string of both residential and auto burglaries he committed.
Upon further investigation on scene, deputies located an auto burglary (among several) from which it was determined Kovacevic had stolen the police ballistic vest and handcuffs. The victim of that particular auto burglary is a Tampa police officer who resided in the subdivision. HCSO deputies discerned no police weapons were stolen.
For his late-night/early-morning foray within a subdivision in which he did not reside --and had no verifiable purpose for his presence-- Kovacevic was charged with the following criminal statutes: Armed Burglary of a Dwelling (4 counts), Petit Theft (2 counts), Falsely Personating an Officer (6 counts), Criminal Mischief (4 counts), Armed Burglary of a Conveyance (5 counts), Grand Theft of Law Enforcement Equipment (1 count), Out-of-County Warrant for Violation of Probation (Grand Theft).
As to the numerous counts regarding the Falsely Personating An Officer charge, each presentation by Kovacevic to anyone, whether it be official law enforcement personnel or citizens equates to a count each. Kovacevic bundled up those charges after posing as a police officer in front of six individuals.
Pertaining to the five counts of Armed Burglary of a dwelling charge, Florida statute predicates that when during the course of a Burglary the perpetrator is or becomes armed, this charge applies for each dwelling. Similarly, this holds true for each Burglary of a Conveyance (auto) in which a break-in was committed.
Kovacevic remains in Hillsborough County jail with no bond stipulations. The "out-of-county" warrant served upon Kovacevic, subsequent to his arrest by HCSO deputies, was initiated by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
It was also determined via investigation that Kovacevic resides nearby the South Pointe subdivision in Riverview, Fla., and relocated to Florida from Ohio.
This case and all its inherent criminal activity stemmed from an illicit-minded young man. The resulting success leading to the arrest of Kovacevic was due to the community (neighbor/witness) and law enforcement authorities working cooperatively.
All stolen property was returned to rightful owners.
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