Increase in construction site burglaries leads to arrest of man and woman in St. Johns County

An investigation into a series of construction site burglaries in St. Johns County has resulted in the arrest of a man and a woman. The burglaries primarily targeted homes under construction in the county’s northwest area, with thieves stealing copper wire and tubing.

Detectives initiated the investigation after receiving multiple reports of these incidents. They identified several suspect vehicles and eventually focused on a potential suspect. On November 22, the suspect entered St. Johns County, and deputies located the suspect’s vehicle in a new subdivision. Upon discovering the suspect in the vehicle, deputies attempted to apprehend them as they tried to drive away. The suspect was stopped and subsequently arrested.

During a search of the vehicle, deputies found burglary tools and narcotics paraphernalia. Another individual, a woman, was also present in the vehicle. Both individuals, identified as Robert Surface and Lauren Vereen, were arrested.

Surface, who was already on felony probation for a previous construction site burglary, now faces multiple charges, including burglary, possession of drug paraphernalia, and violation of parole. Vereen admitted to involvement in several burglaries in the area and is also facing charges.

Authorities have expressed concern over the increase in construction site burglaries, particularly given the ongoing development in the county. The theft of copper is a prevalent issue, with an estimated annual loss of nearly $1 billion nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Residents living near homes under construction are urged to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the sheriff’s office.