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Date of Issue: December 23, 2009

Burglars hit four Holmes Beach stores

Holmes Beach Police Department officers respond to a burglary Dec. 18 at the Tide and Moon store on Gulf Drive.
Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

Burglars smashed the door and window Dec. 18 at the Tide and Moon store.
Islander photo: Bonner Joy

Early in the morning Dec. 18, burglars targeted retail stores near the corner of Gulf and Marina drives, taking cash and various merchandise.

Tide and Moon in the AMI Plaza, and Mister Roberts Resortwear, the Color of Coconut and AMI Fitness, across Gulf Drive from Tide and Moon in the S&S Plaza, were burglarized before 7 a.m.

“It’s a huge sign of the times,” Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine said. “This is happening everywhere. It’s magnified here because we’ve basically gone a long time without any incident.”

Tide and Moon was perhaps hit the hardest. Store owner Laura Shelly said she has no theft insurance and was devastated at the loss of merchandise and destruction. Much of the glass in her display cases was broken and the cash register was smashed.

“My jewelry tools, all but some in my car, were taken. I don’t know how I’ll recover from this,” Shelly said as HBPD Detective Mike Leonard and Officer Chip Frapier awaited a technician from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office to take evidence.

To gain entry, burglars smashed Shelly’s glass door. HBPD found some evidence in the store. The AMI Plaza owner was collecting surveillance, and video taken from cameras mounted over the walkways in the recently remodeled shops.

Sara Gafvert, co-owner of the Color of Coconut, said burglars broke through the back door of her store. “No one has ever broken in here,” Gafvert said. “I don’t know what to do. Get poisonous snakes in here? We’re all working our butts off and we’re just barely making it right now. There’s nothing worse than thieves, especially around Christmastime.”

Linda Clayton, owner of Mister Roberts, said the store alarm went off just before 4 a.m. “So the burglars didn’t spend a lot of time in here, I don’t think,” she said.

Clayton said the business has been around 43 years. In the third year of the business, she said, when the store did not have alarms, burglars broke in and cleaned the store out.

“They took everything,” Clayton said. “That’s why we have an alarm system now.”

Romine said that with an alarming increase in burglaries throughout Holmes Beach the past two months, citizens need to become aware of suspicious activity.

“In the city of Holmes Beach, there are 10,000 eyes out there,” Romine said. “I’ve got 14 officers, but there’s 10,000 eyes in the city. When people see things that don’t seem right at first glance, it’s probably because it ain’t. It’s probably not right.”

Romine called for citizens to report even the most minor suspicions.

“I’d rather respond 50 times to nothing, but at least we have a chance to find out that it’s nothing,” Romine said. “We need people to be nosy.”

Anyone with information about the burglaries is asked to call HBPD at 941-708-5804, or CrimeStoppers at 866-634-8477.

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