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Cops: Women targeted in recent robberies

MANATEE — Authorities in Manatee and Sarasota counties are investigating a trend of robberies targeted women.

In the past two months, there have been nine cases in which a suspect described as a masked man reportedly attacked women near their homes. In one case, a woman was killed in the attack in Sarasota County.

Authorities are looking at each of the cases to see if there is a connection between suspects.

In Manatee County, there have been three attacks, including one in the city of Bradenton.

On Feb. 16, a 52-year-old woman was attacked while she was walking along Riverview Boulevard. She said in a previous interview a masked man jumped out from behind a seawall armed with a gun.

On March 13, an 84-year-old woman was taken to Blake Medical Center after a masked man entered her home at about 11 a.m. through an open side door attached to the garage in the 8200 block of 19th Avenue Northwest.

On March 31, a 70-year-old woman answered the door at about 3 p.m. thinking it was her son. She was taken to Bayfront Medical Center after she was beaten and her purse was taken at her home in the 4000 block of State Road 70/53rd Avenue East.

In each of the Manatee County cases, all of the women were pistol whipped by an assailant.

It’s unclear whether it is the same attacker though, according to authorities.

“The fact of the matter is both subjects ended up pistol-whipping an elderly woman and fortunately they were able to recover. . . . We’re working these with a sense of urgency and trying to come up with suspects,” said Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Dave Bristow. “Even if it’s not the same person, the person or persons need to be stopped.”

Agencies investigating the cases include the FBI, Bradenton Police Department, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Sarasota Police Department and Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.

“There does not appear to be a distinct pattern as to day or time occurrence. It does appear the perpetrator may be looking through windows prior to entering the homes,” said Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Col. Steve Burns in a released statement.

Sarasota County has had one death from an attack and three other attacks. The city of Sarasota has had two cases that were in early March in residential areas off U.S. 41.

Authorities are urging residents to use caution by keeping doors locked, being aware of their surroundings, staying in well-lit areas and not walking alone.

In Manatee, anyone with information about the Riverview Boulevard attack can contact Bradenton Police Detective Jim Curulla at 932-9311. To report information about the attack on 19th Avenue Northwest, contact Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Detective Tom Doughty at 747-3011, ext. 2511. Anyone with any information about the attack on State Road 70 can call sheriff’s office Detective Dennis Sanders at 747-3011, ext. 2552.

To remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a reward, call Crimestoppers at (866) 634-TIPS (8477).

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