Excellent police work and the false report of a stolen car led to the arrest of a suspect for burglary and other charges, clearing two separate investigations.
“Criminals sure do come up with some interesting ways to elude law enforcement. In this case, Shawn Barch, who was seen on two different video surveillance systems at two different crime scenes, was later spotted by our detectives, fled from a traffic stop, and then tried to report his car stolen as an alibi. You can’t make this stuff up. He’ll have plenty of time to think of some other crazy stories, while he’s in the county jail.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff
The following are excerpts from his affidavits, and are self-explanatory:
Around 12:05 p.m. on 12/24/16, the suspect, later positively identified as Shawn Wesley Barch, entered into the secured workout room at the Huntington at Sundance apartments, located at 300 Heartland Boulevard in Mulberry, with the intent to commit a theft. Once he entered the secured workout room, he is captured on surveillance video walking over to a flat screen TV valued at approximately $200.00 hanging on the wall, and then utilizing the workout machine’s pull-down bar to redirect the camera away from the flat screen TV. At the time of the burglary he was wearing a red Hawaiian style shirt and red shorts.
On 12/26/16, a security officer discovered the flat screen TV missing from the secured workout room, at which time law enforcement was contacted. Deputies responded to the main office and obtained a copy of the surveillance video. After reviewing the surveillance video, the property manager advised the suspect was not a resident, did not have permission to enter the secured workout room, and did not have permission to remove the above described flat screen TV.
On 01/03/17, an agency bulletin was created utilizing the surveillance video images, and distributed throughout PCSO. On 01/04/17, Detective Pantalone of the PCSO Southwest District General Crimes Unit, contacted the deputy who created the bulletin and advised the suspect caught on the surveillance video matched the description of a suspect in a separate case he was investigating:
Between 12/23/16 and 12/24/16, an unknown suspect was captured on surveillance video in the parking lot behind 2004 CR540A East in Lakeland (Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida). The suspect is seen driving into the rear parking lot in a dark colored Dodge Nitro. During the approximately eight hours the suspect spends in the rear parking lot, the suspect tampers with multiple breaker boxes on the rear of the building, and sets a dumpster on fire. The suspect was as a white male wearing red shorts and a red Hawaiian style T-shirt.
Detective Pantalone advised the deputy he had obtained surveillance video from his investigation, which was passed on to the other detectives in the PCSO Southwest District General Crimes Unit.
At 2:05 p.m. on 01/05/17, Detective Hancock was driving westbound on CR540A East in the area of McCall Road in Lakeland, Florida, when she observed a dark colored Dodge Nitro also driving westbound on CR540A East. Detective Hancock maintained a visual of the vehicle as she contacted Detective Pantalone to confirm the description of the suspect and suspect vehicle from the aforementioned investigations. Detective Hancock provided Detective Pantalone the Florida tag attached to the Dodge Nitro, and described the driver she observed operating the vehicle, as a white male with long hair and “scruffy” facial hair. Detective Pantalone searched the Florida tag through DAVID, and discovered the registered owner was Shawn Wesley Barch. After reviewing the suspect’s Florida issued driver’s license photo, Detective Pantalone advised Detective Hancock the vehicle and the driver matched the description of the suspect vehicle and suspect in the two investigations. Meanwhile Barch continued to drive, while Detective Hancock activated her agency-issued emergency equipment and maintained a visual on his car. Barch failed to stop and left the area at a high rate of speed to evade capture.
Multiple detectives with the PCSO Office Southwest District General Crimes Unit responded to the area to assist with apprehending the suspect. Detective Hancock reviewed the suspect’s Florida issued driver’s license photo through DAVID, and confirmed the suspect she observed driving the Dodge Nitro that fled from her was the Barch.
At 3:26 p.m. on 01/05/17, Barch contacted PCSO to report his vehicle, a gray Dodge Nitro, as stolen from the area of 3605 Ewell Road in Lakeland, Florida, where he said he left it when he “ran out of gas”. Deputies responded and conducted a stolen vehicle investigation. During the investigation, Barch completed a sworn statement regarding the theft of his vehicle.
At 1:00 p.m. on 01/06/17, Barch responded to the PCSO Southwest District Substation in Lakeland, to assist with continuing the investigation into his stolen vehicle that he reported. During a taped interview, he was read his Miranda Rights. Post-Miranda, he repeated his original statement regarding the theft, with some changes. Some of his statements were inconsistent with what he originally reported during the initial stolen vehicle investigation.
When confronted with the fact Detective Hancock observed him driving the vehicle on the day in question, and observed him flee from her attempt to conduct a traffic stop, Barch became nervous and denied he was driving. He struggled to provide the full names of his cousin, nephew, and friend, all of which allegedly were in contact with the defendant on 01/05/17.
When asked when he was last at the Huntington at Sundance apartments in Mulberry, Barch advised approximately two weeks prior. When asked if he was by the apartment pool or workout room, Barch stated he was not. When confronted with photographs of him from the surveillance video in the workout room, Barch confirmed he was pictured in the photographs in the workout room. He then continued to give multiple and conflicting stories as what he was doing at the apartment complex, who he was with, and where he was. He denied any involvement or knowledge in the stolen flat screen TV.
Detectives then questioned Barch regarding his activity prior to being at the apartment complex, to which he again provided multiple conflicting stories. He stated he left Lakeland to drive to Cape Coral around 2:00 a.m. on 12/24/16. When confronted with photographs of him and his Dodge Nitro from the surveillance video behind Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida, Barch confirmed he and his vehicle were in the photographs. Barch again provided multiple conflicting stories as to why he was behind that location, and as to what he did during the approximately eight hours he was there. Barch admitted to plugging in an extension cord to a breaker box on the rear of the building to charge his vehicle, and that he did not have permission to do so. Barch also admitted to searching through the dumpster, and stated his cigarette may have caught the dumpster on fire, but he thought it had gone out. When confronted with the fact the surveillance captured him standing beside the dumpster when the flames and smoke first became visible, Barch appeared at a loss for words.
Shawn Wesley Barch, DOB 1/20/76, of 3910 Ewell Road in Lakeland, was arrested for Burglary, Fleeing to Elude, Petit Theft, and Filing False Police Report, for the burglary at Sundance Apartments; and Felony Criminal Mischief and Petit Theft for the dumpster fire and theft of electricity behind Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida, and booked into the Polk County Jail. His criminal history includes prior arrests for Burglary, Grand Theft, Resisting Arrest, Narcotics, Petit Theft, Criminal Mischief, Battery, Trespassing, Hit-And-Run, and Disorderly Intoxication.