Manatee deputies catch 'smash-and-grab' burglar in the act

December 19, 2013 

Robert Saunders, dealing in stolen property, theft, burglary, $36,500 bond.

MANATEE -- Sheriff's deputies early Thursday arrested a 34-year-old man after they saw him break into a Bradenton business by smashing the front glass door, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Offices.

In response to recent "smash-and-grab" burglaries of businesses in the area, deputies were conducting surveillance and extra patrols along Cortez Road when about 2:10 a.m. they spotted a man in the bushes of the Demetrios Italian restaurant, 1720 Cortez Road W., according to a news release.

Using night vision gear, deputies watched as the man as the went to Dan's Fan City, 1808 Cortez Road W., where he was seen "looking around as if looking for a clear moment to make entry," the report states.

"The subject was observed picking up a piece of broken curbing and eventually observed throwing it through the window, smashing it," the report states.

Deputies converged on the store and arrested the man, identified as Robert Saunders, without incident.

Investigators believe Saunders is the same man deputies saw trying to breaking into another business Monday night but was scared off, according to the report.

The report does does say whether Saunders is suspected of three "smash-and-grab" burglaries Monday night. Two of those break-ins were in the general vicinity of where Saunders was arrested, the third was in Oneco.

Earlier this week, the sheriff's office released surveillance video of another "smash-and-grab" burglary Dec. 10, in the 4000 block of 20th Street West, which is about five blocks from where Saunders was arrested.

When arrested, Saunders "appeared to be wearing the same hat as seen in previous surveillance videos as well as arm tattoos," the report states.

Saunders faces charges of burglary, theft and dealing in stolen property. He is being held at the Manatee County jail on bonds totaling $36,500.

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