Crime

He parked a stolen car in front of a firehouse. Cops say that’s when it got strange

Thomas Radcliffe Cheek
Thomas Radcliffe Cheek

A Maryland man stole a Jeep from the Lower Keys, parked it in front of a Middle Keys firehouse, then walked across U.S. 1 to a resort, where he shoved an employee and defecated on the property, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Thomas Radcliffe Cheek, 58, who is originally from Baltimore, is in county jail in Key West on a total bond of $60,000 on charges of burglary, larceny, grand theft auto and battery.

He began his crime spree at 8:13 a.m. Tuesday when he stole a Jeep Cherokee from a yard in Summerland Key, sheriff’s spokesman Adam Linhardt said. The owner said he left the keys in the car.

At 1:50 p.m., police received a call from the fire department in the small Middle Keys city of Layton that someone parked a Jeep in the fire station driveway that was blocking the department’s tanker truck. The firefighter who called said his gear was taken from the truck, but he could see it inside the Jeep.

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Police looked at security camera footage from the fire station that showed a man, later identified as Cheek, walking to the Jeep with a firefighter coat, Linhardt said.

Later in the afternoon, the sheriff’s office received a call from the Key Lime Bay Resort, which is directly across the street from the Layton firehouse, reporting a man pushed an employee and defecated on the property, Linhardt said.

Resort employees said guests complained about a drunken man playing with children on the beach.

Cheek told the employee who he hit that his car broke down. When she asked him if he was staying at the Key Lime Bay, he became angry and yelled at her. She asked him to leave and shoved her, Linhardt said.

A deputy saw a man walking along U.S. 1 fitting the description given by the hotel of the person who pushed the worker. He was wearing red shorts and a T-shirt with a marijuana leaf emblem on it, Linhardt said.

Deputies found the stolen Jeep’s key fob in his pocket, Linhardt said.

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