Who said burglars never pick locks ?!?
‘I’m a lock-pick until the day I die. They’ll have to pry the lock-picks from my cold, dead fingers,’ Joseph Carbone once said.
BY DAVID OVALLE
THE MIAMI HERALD
Condo Joe, slick jewel thief, longtime Miami-Dade police nemesis, bald senior citizen, is back behind bars.
Joseph Carbone, 60, was arrested late Wednesday, this time in Palm Bay for a break-in across Alligator Alley in Collier County.
Deputies say a husband and wife surprised him just after 1 p.m. Nov. 14 as he rifled through a nightstand inside their condo. Carbone escaped and zoomed off in a black Ford Crown Victoria — but not before the couple jotted down his license plate.
”I’ve spent 30 years chasing this guy and he just doesn’t want to quit,” said retired Miami-Dade Detective Michael Crowley.
Crowley and Miami-Dade Sgt. Thomas ”Bulldog” Blake spent decades tracking the old-breed lock-pick thief who targeted high-rise condos and high-end jewelry.
In the mid-1970s, Blake drew national headlines for his pursuit of Carbone, who bragged about wearing expensive jewelry while committing heists, stayed at swank hotels and always valet parked.
For 18 months, Blake tracked Carbone, tailing him while off duty — even distributing fliers to police along the East Coast while on vacation with his family.
His diligence paid off. Alerted to Carbone’s presence, Virginia authorities arrested Carbone with stolen jewelry and a set of lock picks on him.
Blake helped arrest Carbone two more times, in 1984 and 1990.
Carbone was unabashed about his career choice.
”I’m a lock-pick until the day I die. They’ll have to pry the lock-picks from my cold, dead fingers,” Carbone once told Blake.
After a 19-month stint in state prison, Carbone was released on probation in February 2004 but disappeared. He was arrested within a month at the Best Western Floridian Hotel in Cutler Ridge.
Found in his room: some 15 lock picks, jewelry, watches — and copies of old Miami Herald articles chronicling his exploits.
He was released from prison a month later and finished his probation in October 2005. Though he slipped off the radar, Crowley and Blake suspected he had returned to his old ways.
Carbone was again arrested this Oct. 3 in Indian River County.
He was found, deputies say, at 10:25 a.m. trying to open a house door, his hand draped with a white handkerchief. A deputy later pulled over Carbone, driving a Ford Fusion rented in Miami.
Sweaty and nervous, he allowed the deputy to search his brown fanny pack. Inside: small screw drivers, a small pry tool, two white handkerchiefs and a “a large amount of lock picking tools.”
Inside the trunk, deputies found diamond earrings in a box, two pairs of binoculars, a window punch tool, more handkerchiefs — and 12 baseball caps.
”I guess they cover up the baldness,” Crowley quipped.
Carbone was charged with attempted burglary, possession of burglary tools and loitering and prowling. He was released on bond.
Then in November in Collier County, a husband and wife returning to their two-story condo in a gated community saw Carbone through the bedroom window. He was rifling through the nightstand.
”She ran in yelling and chasing him out of the house,” said Collier County Lt. Chad Parker.
Carbone dropped the jewelry and hopped into the Crown Victoria but the couple wrote down the tag number.
That proved his undoing, deputies said: The license plate was registered to him.
Deputies consulted with Blake, Crowley, and Miami-Dade career criminal Detective John Laughlin.
Crowley immediately called a former co-worker at Miami police: William Berger, now the police chief of Palm Bay — where Carbone has been living.
By Wednesday night, the old jewel thief was arrested at his exclusive home by Palm Bay crime suppression detectives.
Even Berger was surprised at Carbone’s stubborn refusal to quit thieving.
”You don’t see these type of guys around anymore,” Berger said.
Web Extra: ‘Condo Joe’ arrested wearing pajamas
He was wearing pj’s
Palm Bay police arrested career criminal Ã¢â‚¬Å“CondoÃ¢â‚¬Â Joe Carbone while he was wearing pajamas and relaxing at home Wednesday night, spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez said.
Palm Bay Police Chief William Berger received a tip from his former Miami-Dade police colleagues that Carbone was staying at 253 Wishing Well Circle, less than a mile west of DeGroodt Road.
Police donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know if Carbone owned the house or was staying with friends. Carbone doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t own a house in Brevard County, according to property records.
About six officers, including the crime suppression unit, arrested Carbone without incident, on a warrant of Collier County, Martinez said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t give him an opportunity to resist,Ã¢â‚¬Â Martinez said.
He was taken to Brevard County Jail in Sharpes but later transported to Collier County.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If convicted for the charges on this warrant he could be looking at 40 years,Ã¢â‚¬Â Martinez added.
– Megan Downs, FLORIDA TODAY
(thanks to Froggy for the link to the original article)