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Teen scares off would-be burglar

MANATEE — A Manatee teen’s summer turned terrifying Monday morning when a man kicked in the front door of the boy’s home, then fled when he saw someone inside.

Jeromy Phillips, 17, told Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies that he awoke just before 11 a.m. to someone pounding on the front door of his home in the 4500 block of Coral Boulevard, just off Cortez Road.

“I thought my father was working on the fence out back or something,” he said.

Then, realizing his father had gone to work, Phillips grabbed a baseball bat and headed to the living room. He saw the shadow of someone walking in a hallway and he believes an intruder also saw his silhouette because the person bolted out the front door.

Phillips called 911 and, once he believed the man had gone, surveyed the damage to their front door. Sheriff’s deputies and K-9 dogs searched the area, but found no one. Phillips said he didn’t get a good look at the man other than to see he was bald.

Sitting on his front porch with a victim’s brochure given to him by sheriff’s deputies, Phillips said his family had just moved into the home, looking for a fresh start.

“We left our neighborhood because it was bad and we wanted to get away from stuff like this,” he said. “And then this happens.”

Phillips’ father, Don, rushed home from his job on Longboat Key after his son called with the scary news. But he got caught at the Cortez drawbridge on his way home, making for gut-wrenching moments worrying about his son.

“I was clenching my steering wheel like you wouldn’t believe,” Don Phillips said. “It seemed like it took forever to get here.”

Phillips praised his son for scaring the would-be burglar off, saying had they gone on vacation as initially planned this week their house probably would have been empty when they returned.

“We were supposed to be out of the state on vacation, but some work came up that I had to get done,” Don Phillips said. “I guess we would have been cleaned out if my son had not been home.”

Anyone with information on the attempted burglary is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (491) 747-3011, or Crimestoppers at (866) 634-TIPS.