Property from $400,000 Sarasota burglary recovered, suspects Arrested

SARASOTA -- Three suspects have been arrested in the burglary of a residence, where property valued at $400,000 was stolen, the Sarasota Police Department reported today.

The stolen property was also recovered. The victim reported the burglary of a residence in the 3700 block of Breezemont Drive in Sarasota on Dec. 14, a police press release said. The burglary occurred during a one hour and 15 minute time frame, between 2:15 and 3:30 p.m. Items stolen included coins (gold, silver, and collectable) valued at $400,000. Detective Jack Carter and Detective Maria Llovio were assigned to investigate the burglary. Detective Llovio issued a notification to retailers about the stolen gold and collectable coins. American Coins and Collectables notified Detective Llovio that on Dec. 15 two customers had attempted to sell a suitcase full of very valuable coins. The suspects were going to verify the value of the coins at another shop and then return to make the sale. Detective Llovio provided information to Sarasota County deputies (the store is in the unincorporated portion of Sarasota County). On Dec. 17, two suspects returned to American Coin and Collectables with the same suitcase of valuable coins. Both suspects negotiated the sale of the coins. When the suspects became aware that law enforcement officers were responding the suspects fled out the rear door leaving the suitcase and the coins in the store. Sarasota County deputies after a brief foot pursuit arrested Justin Gerken and Benjamin Hilliard. The victim of the burglary responded to the location and identified the recovered coins as items taken during the burglary. Justin Gerken, 21, and Benjamin Hilliard, 22, were arrested for dealing in stolen property. Hilliard was also charged with violation of probation reference a previous arrest for burglary, and resisting arrest without violence. The investigation continued and Detective Carter developed probable cause to arrest Justin Gerken and Jessica Striewski, 19. Both were arrested on Dec. 22. Gerken was charged with grand theft in excess of $100,000. Striewski was charged with grand theft $100,000 or more, dealing in stolen property, and fraud – false owner information on a pawn slip. The arrests were the result of the collaborative effort of officers from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and the Sarasota Police Department.

Anyone with information concerning this crime is asked to contact Detective Carter at 941-954-7088.