Home invasions shatter county quiet period

rdymond@bradenton.comJuly 28, 2009 

MANATEE — Manatee County went a week without a home invasion, but the streak is over.

“We had two early this morning,” a concerned Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube said Monday outside his office.

The first reported home invasions since July 18 were in Bradenton in the area known as Holiday Heights near 20th Street West and Cortez Road and on 14th Street East in Palmetto. The Bradenton home invasion left one man with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to his upper thigh, said Dave Bristow, a sheriff’s office spokesman.

No arrests had been made in either incident by late Monday afternoon, Bristow said.

The sheriff’s office is considering changing the Palmetto event to an “armed burglary” since it seems the perpetrators thought the home on the 1000 block of 14th Street East was unoccupied.

“When you are doing a home invasion, you know someone is there,” Bristow said. “In the Palmetto case, we are not sure, but we think they didn’t know. They took property and left.”

That doesn’t seem to be the case in the Bradenton home invasion on the 1800 block of 46th Avenue Drive West.

One of the residents of the Bradenton residence has been arrested a few times, Bristow said. “He has drug arrests. We think drugs were involved in this one.”

The home invasion in Bradenton surprised Sylvia Garcia, who recently moved her family to nearby 46th Avenue West with her three children after being robbed twice on 30th Avenue West.

“We didn’t even know this happened this morning,” Garcia said Monday. “It’s been quiet around here.”

At 6:34 a.m. Monday, one of the residents of the Bradenton home invasion opened the rear sliding glass door when she saw three people standing on her back porch, according to a sheriff’s office report.

The three rushed into the home and at gunpoint separated the residents. The intruders demanded money and duct-taped the hands of two residents in the house. A third resident in the living room was shot in the upper thigh. A K-9 dog tracked the intruders over the rear fence to 20th Street West where the track stopped, the report states. The wounded man was flown to Bayfront Hospital in St. Petersburg for treatment.

At 4 a.m. in Palmetto, three persons entered the address by prying open the locked garage door. Once inside, they held two victims at gunpoint while the house was ransacked. Cash, jewelry, a handgun and a TV set were taken, the report states. Two of the intruders were armed with handguns.

The victims were not injured, but were told that if they called the police they would be killed, the report states. The victims waited until 8:30 a.m. to call because of the threat.

The sheriff’s office will respond to this latest spate of home invasions by saturating patrols in peak crime areas, which include south Manatee, Oneco, the area known as “Duplex City,” and the Manatee Woods area off U.S. 41.

There were 79 home invasions in unincorporated Manatee County in the first six months of this year compared to 69 in the same period last year, Bristow said.

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