Amid an investigation into a rash of 60 home burglaries in the past several weeks, Lake County deputies have arrested two people whom they think are connected to at least some of them.
Corey Lynn Payton, 34, and Stacey Lynn Brown, 40, were charged Saturday with grand theft and burglary, with more likely to come.
Stolen property was found in their car, deputies said.
"We recovered quite a bit of stuff from their car," Lake County Spokesman Sgt. Jim Vachon said. "We feel confident they are connected to other cases."
The burglaries have been reported in Leesburg, Fruitland Park and Lady Lake. Detectives think several different groups are committing the crimes, and some could be connected. They all happen in broad daylight, and deputies think the burglars scope out the homes first.
"There have been some reports of suspicious characters knocking on doors, pretending to be a salesperson but are in fact checking to see if anybody is home," Vachon said.
So far, deputies have connected Brown and Payton only to two recent burglaries in a Leesburg neighborhood on Corley Island Road right off U.S. Highway 27. Deputies responded to a burglar alarm call and were able to stop and arrest the two while they were still in the area. Detectives think the two may be connected to more burglaries in the area.
Ritchie Jackson, who lives next door to the latest victim, described her as "a little old widow lady who lives by herself. I'm sure she's scared to death every day now," he said.
"It's scary, especially because I'm at work all day, and the wife is home with the kids," Jackson said. "What are you supposed to do? She has to answer the door, but she shouldn't open the door."
Brown and Payton has a past criminal history that includes grand theft and fraud to resisting arrest dating back more than a decade. They are being held without bond in the Lake County Jail.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Lake County Sheriff's Office at 352-343-2101 or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.