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Victim injured in second home invasion this week

MANATEE — The second home invasion this week has left a victim with a minor head injury.

Three armed men kicked in the victim’s back door in the 1000 block of 29th Street East, Palmetto, at 2 a.m. Thursday, demanded money and then hit the victim in the head about three times with a gun, according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report.

The perpetrators stole a watch, an X-Box 360 video game, a wallet, a purse and $15 cash, the report states.

The persons who committed the crime also demanded the victim’s vehicle and took him outside to unlock it. The victim broke away and ran to a neighbor’s home, where he called 911, according to the report.

The victim was treated for minor head injuries by emergency medical services personnel and released.

The victim’s wife and three children were home, but never came in contact with the persons who entered the home.

The perpetrators are still at large, Dave Bristow, a sheriff’s office spokesman, said Thursday.

This latest home invasion adds to the recent spate of invasions the county has experienced in 2008 and this year.

Manatee County has had 69 home invasions in the first six months this year, 10 more than it did for the first six months of 2008, Bristow said.

The county had been averaging 13 invasions a month, which means one every other day, but law enforcement hopes were high when there weren’t any invasions last week, Bristow said.

“We thought we were a bit on top of this from last week and having arrested two individuals from the recent home invasion that involved a homicide,” Bristow said. “But we have four or five groups out there who are still perpetrating these crimes.”

Last week’s invasionless streak was broken early Monday when a Bradenton home invasion in the area known as Holiday Heights near 20th Street West and Cortez Road left one man with a gunshot wound to his upper thigh.

A second apparent home invasion Monday in Palmetto was later changed to an “armed burglary.”

No arrests have yet been made on those crimes, Bristow said.

Sheriff’s office officials are concerned that between 50 percent and 80 percent of all the home invasions in the county, including the latest, involve Hispanic victims, Bristow said.

Some Hispanic individuals are targets for home invaders because their immigration status makes them tend to avoid reporting crimes and their cultural proclivity is not to put their earnings in banks, said Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Homicide detective Ricardo Alvarado, who formerly worked home invasions.

“The Hispanic families become easy targets because some believe they are less likely to notify the law,” Alvarado said. “It makes them more appealing to criminals. They tend not to have bank accounts and whatever they make they tend to take with them. They become targets of opportunity.”

Better lighting for homes in Hispanic neighborhoods and education to spark awareness of ways they can diminish their status as targets of opportunity must be a top priority, Alvarado said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 708-7917.