LAKEWOOD RANCH -- For the second time in recent weeks, a home in the same gated neighborhood in Lakewood Ranch has been hit by a home invasion.
"It's the same person, we think. We're going on the description, the proximity, and the M.O. (modus operandi)," Dave Bristow, spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, said today.
Tuesday night, two people were robbed at gunpoint in their home in the 8400 block of Misty Morning Court, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reported.
That address is just a few blocks from another home on Waters Edge Way that was hit by a home invasion on July 17.
In the Tuesday robbery, an intruder knocked on the victims’ door about 6:30 p.m. and forced his way into the home at gunpoint after being told the person he was asking for didn’t live there, the sheriff's office reported.
The suspect told the male victim he was not going to hurt him, then took a female into the master bedroom, where he tied her to a bed post and stole her jewelry, the release said.
The intruder bound the male victim’s hands together and unsuccessfully tried to kidnap him. The intruder fled the scene after he realized the female victim was able to free herself from the bed to call 911, the release said.
The suspect is described as about 6 feet to 6-feet-3 inches tall, clean shaven and 20-30 years old. The man is estimated to weigh 170 to 200 pounds. He was last seen wearing a light-colored hat, light-colored shirt and khaki shorts.
The incident was similar to one about 5:30 p.m. July 17 on Waters Edge Way, when a man rang a doorbell at a home and forced his way in when the resident answered.
That victim was held against his will, while the intruder ransacked the residence, loaded personal items into the resident’s vehicle and ordered the victim into the vehicle.
The victim was released on the side of the road at Lorraine Road and University Parkway, and later treated for minor injuries, deputies said.
Subsequently, the stolen vehicle was found at Market Street and University. It had been set on fire.
The suspect was seen leaving on foot and apparently no one saw him getting into a vehicle, Bristow said. Wednesday, surveillance photos from two banks the suspect visited after the Tuesday incident were released to the media.
The sheriff's office has ordered extra patrol for the area and is asking for help from the community with information on anything suspicious anyone may have seen.
Residents are being asked to be cautious and not open their doors to anyone that don't know. Before the two recent home invasions, Bristow said he could not recall another at Lakewood Ranch.
Don O’Leary, a community development supervisor who lives in the same gated community, previously told the Herald the home invasion is one of the most serious crimes at the Ranch he can recollect.
“You don’t expect that in broad daylight,” O’Leary said.
Anyone with information about a crime is asked to call the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at (941) 747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS (8477).