Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies caught a suspect who could be responsible for a rash of brazen Upper Keys burglaries.
The break-ins were particularly concerning because the thief or thieves apparently chose to raid occupied homes.
“It does appear that a person or persons are choosing homes where people are home. Certainly, most burglars choose to break into houses where no one is there,” said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Deputy Becky Herrin. “That’s a situation anyone can see turn very ugly quickly.”
Martinez Watts, 51, was caught early Wednesday morning, around 2 a.m. A man slept on his couch in his Shore Line Drive home when he awoke to find a masked man wearing a green raincoat and camouflage shorts inside the house.
Watts, who lives in Miami, left the house after being confronted, and the owner called police immediately. Ever since the burglaries started two weeks ago, the Sheriff’s Office has had special details patrolling Key Largo and Islamorada. So the police response was quick, Herrin said.
Deputies surrounded the area, which is around mile marker 103.5. Deputy Deb Ryan stopped a car she saw leaving the area. The driver, Watts, was wet from the heavy rains that soaked the Keys Tuesday night. Ryan said Watts began acting nervously when she asked him questions. He had no ID, but said he lived nearby.
Watts put the car in drive and sped off. Other deputies pulled him over a short distance away, and he was arrested, Herrin said. He was armed with a knife when he was picked up, Herrin said.
Deputies discovered the house next door was also burglarized. A woman slept in her bedroom during the break-in. The burglar entered the home by cutting a hole in a second-floor window screen. Shoe prints found at the house matched the ones worn by Watts.
So far, Watts faces two counts of armed burglary of an occupied dwelling, two counts of resisting arrest and loitering and prowling. Watts also has an outstanding warrant in Miami-Dade county for a probation violation.
Read more of this story in Friday's Reporter.