KISSIMMEE – In another reminder that holiday weekends filled with visitors from other states don’t necessary make resort areas immune to criminal behavior, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office started the Memorial Day Weekend chasing after men soliciting prostitutes on the U.S. 192 tourism corridor, and ended it by arresting a man who broken into a local resort.
Andreas Carl Flink, 19, of 1000 Holt Ave. in Winter Park, was booked into the Osceola County Jail after being charged with armed occupied burglary and grand theft for what deputies say was a break in at the Emerald Island Resorts in Kissimmee.
Located within three miles of Walt Disney World, Emerald Island provides a a shuttle service to area attractions, and its in-house amenities include a heated swimming pool and whirlpool, Tiki Bar, numerous lighted tennis and volleyball courts, and children’s playground areas.
But on Memorial Day, deputies say Flink wasn’t there to enjoy the hot tubs.
Just before 7 a.m., deputies got a call from a home at Lido Key Drive in Emerald Island Resorts, about an armed burglary that just happened there.
When deputies got to the scene, the caller said she and her family woke up to discover a man, later identified as Flink, was in their kitchen, armed with a knife. He was holding some of their personal belongings, including a camera, straw hat, I Phone charger and medication.
“They asked Flink what he was doing in their residence, and he indicated he thought he was at ‘Alex’s house,’ ” noted Twis Lizasuain, the public information officer for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, in her report on the arrest.
Flink didn’t stay long, Lizasuain said. When confronted by the family, he ran out the sliding glass door.
Deputies got a description of the suspect from the family, and were able to locate Flink a short time later, still roaming around the area.
“Flink told deputies he was disoriented and only remembers walking into a residence where the door was unlocked,” Lizasuain said.
Deputies found the victim’s personal items, which had been discarded by Flink after he ran out of the house, the arrest report notes.
At the start of the holiday weekend, on Thursday and Friday, May 24-25, Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies joined with the Community Response Team West to conduct an undercover prostitution sting — one that proved sex for a fee remains a thriving business in tourist spots.
By the end of the second day, twenty-seven men had been arrested, charged with either soliciting prostitution or several drug offenses, during an operation that took place near the 4000 block of U.S. 192.
“The operation was a result of complaints from businesses of illegal activity in the area,” Lizasuain said.
Twenty-one men got arrested in the undercover sting, charged with soliciting prostitution, and according to the arrest report, these men came from all over Central Florida to find a prostitute at the start of the holiday weekend, traveling from St. Cloud, Haines City, Poinciana, Orlando, and Tampa to begin their search.
In addition to soliciting prostitution, several men were also charged with possession of marijuana under 20 grams, possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana with the intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting arrest without violence, and the sale and delivery of cocaine.
U.S. 192 stretches from the Four Corners area near the Polk and Lake County line, to Celebration, then on to Kissimmee and St. Cloud in Osceola County. Although parts of the highway have fallen on tough times, it remains an active part of the region’s local tourism industry, and is home to resorts like SummerBay and Orange Lake Resort, dinner theaters like Arabian Nights and Capone’s Dinner Snow, and shopping plazas like Formosa Gardens and Rolling Oak Commons.
In the area around Four Corners, U.S. 192 is also home to a school, Westside K-8 Elementary.
Despite the highway’s appeal to tourists, business owners have complained about a rising crime rate there, including break-ins at local resorts, prostitution and drug dealing on the streets, and tourists ripped off by fake discount theme park ticket operations.
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