A dream vacation to Walt Disney World turned into a nightmare for Neil Armstrong and his family.
The Armstrongs traveled from England and were staying at a vacation rental home in a gated community located off of west U.S. Highway 192, in Osceola County.
The family came home to find items stolen from the home, including their passports. But the Armstongs weren't the only ones to find they had items stolen from their vacation rentals.
The thefts have been an ongoing problem for years in the tourist hot spot in the Four Corners area, and now the State Attorney's Office is taking extra measures to prosecute the criminals.
State Attorney's Office officials are in the process of prosecuting a group of four men who victimized the Armstrongs and several other families.
Stephen Orr, 20, was the first man to stand trial. He was convicted on more than 20 counts. Orr and three friends would dress as construction workers and sneak into gated neighborhoods.
"These vacation rental homes are listed online — on websites — for weekly or monthly rentals," said Danielle Grobmyer, an assistant state attorney with the Ninth Judicial Circuit. "There's a particular kind of key box that's on the front door."
The key box is easy to break, which is what Orr and his friends would do during the daytime while the victims visited Central Florida's theme parks, prosecutors said.
The four stole almost $100,000 in items, including a Porsche, TVs, jewelry and passports.
"Unfortunately, it's happening a lot because these victims live in other countries and other states, and so it's very difficult for them to come back for prosecution," Grobmyer said.
Victims in Orr's case had to fly in from three different countries for the week-long trial.
The case against Orr and his friends is the largest racketeering case involving tourist thefts the State Attorney's Office has prosecuted. It's something officials said they will continue to do so that visitors — and their belongings — can remain safe.
"We want to send a message to the criminals that they cannot target tourists specifically, and that we will use everything in our disposal to go after them for what they have done — punishing them to the maximum that the law will alow," said Rob Holborn, an assistant state attorney with the Ninth Judicial Circuit.
Orr will be sentenced March 6. He faces up to about 18 years in prison.