Two North Port men were arrested in connection with guns and other equipment stolen from a Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office vehicle after it was left unlocked overnight.
David Byrd and James Tolbert, both 18, are now facing multiple charges.
Early Tuesday, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office detectives learned detective Brian Keane left his unmarked sheriff’s office vehicle unlocked overnight and two guns — his duty 9 mm Sig Sauer and Accuracy International AT 308 sniper rifle — were stolen.
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Within two hours, detectives received a tip through social media that led them to the sniper rifle, according to the sheriff’s office.
Detectives learned Byrd was trying to sell the sniper rifle for $300, and went to his home in the 8300 block of Scanlon Avenue in North Port.
There, Byrd reportedly admitted to having the sniper rifle along with several other items reported missing from the vehicle, according to the sheriff’s office. He took investigators to a nearby wooded area where the stolen items were recovered by investigators.
The investigation also led detectives to Tolbert, who had the 9 mm gun before selling it, according to the sheriff’s office.
Detectives found the gun. They also found a bullet reported stolen in the burglary in Tolbert’s room.
Tolbert is charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon and dealing in stolen property. He is also facing violation of probation charges, as he is currently on probation for convictions on two counts of burglary and a count of grand theft.
Byrd is facing two counts of grand theft of law enforcement equipment, two counts of dealing in stolen property, and one count of tampering with evidence.
He is in custody on a $31,500 bond while Tolbert is being held without bond. Both men have previous arrests in Sarasota County for armed robbery.
“This has been a challenging week for the sheriff’s office,” Sheriff Tom Knight said in a news release. “Whenever a weapon gets into the hands of a criminal and in this case, a convicted felon, it puts a community on edge. I am proud of the personnel who worked around the clock to get these guns off the streets and brought resolution to this incident.”