During a routine traffic stop, a deputy’s good memory and inquisitive detective skills led to the recovery of stolen musical equipment and the arrest of two men.
On Thursday, May 28, 2020, at 3:02 a.m., a deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, traveling down Knights Griffin Road in Plant City, stopped a beige Dodge Caliber driven by Zachary Haas, 24, for speeding and for broken rear lights.
The deputy noticed Haas was nervous, as his hands were shaking as he looked for his driver’s license.
The deputy recognized the passenger, Dakota Wooton, 21, from a crash back in March where multiple people fled the scene. The deputy also spotted a significant amount of musical equipment covered in dirt and grass in the backseat. Haas also had hitchhiker seeds and dirt all over his pants and shoes.
Haas told the deputy he was moving it for a friend. After running a background check, the deputy learned Haas was recently released from prison in October 2019 after being incarcerated for burglary charges. Wooton was currently on probation for possession of a controlled substance.
Haas was unable to provide a last name for his “friend” who he claimed he was moving the equipment for. The deputy called the “friend,” but no one picked up. As Haas tried to contact his “friend” through social media, the deputy noticed Haas quickly close tabs on his phone where he was searching for the equipment’s market value.
IWhile searching the car, the deputy found a black bag with a Guitar Center credit card and a purchase application with another man’s contact information. The deputy called the number on the application and the man who picked up said he was about to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to report all of his musical equipment had been stolen, about 30 minutes prior, from his studio on the 1400 block of Dr. King Boulevard East in Seffner.
The victim arrived to the traffic stop and positively identified all of the music equipment as his. He also stated Wooton was an alleged friend who had been to the music studio in the past. He said he had never seen Haas before. Assisting deputies responded to the victim’s music studio and determined entry was made into the location via an unlocked exterior window.
A total of $1,760 in stolen property was recovered.
“I am proud of our deputy who paid close attention to detail and trusted his instinct to dig deeper and uncover layers of criminal activity,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “During the traffic stop, this deputy noticed inconsistencies and was ultimately able to catch criminals in the act and reunite a musician with his valuable equipment.”