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Home-invasion suspects sought

By Lisa Neff, Islander Reporter

The two women suspected of breaking into a home Jan. 27. A watchful resident took the photograph. Islander Photo: Courtesy Holmes Beach Police Department

Authorities recovered in Virginia a car stolen during a home invasion Jan. 25 in Holmes Beach.

“We’ve located the vehicle … dumped off at an apartment complex in Roanoke,” Holmes Beach Police Department Det. Mike Leonard said Jan. 28.

Authorities continued to search for the two women who broke into a residence in the 4900 block of Second Avenue North in Holmes Beach and stole jewelry, cash, credit cards and an auto after restraining the resident.

“We have an all-points bulletin out for them everywhere,” Leonard said, adding that a trail of credit card charges indicates the suspects traveled north on Interstate 75.

“The people are no longer in this area,” he added. “They aren’t going to be terrorizing any more people.”

HBPD, in a news release issued Jan. 25, described the suspects as female — one shorter, with possible facial piercings on the lower lip, and one taller with longer hair. Both, at the time of the incident, wore knit hats and one wore cut-off green cargo pants.

An image released later in the week — a photograph taken by a watchful resident in the neighborhood — showed the two suspects wearing blankets over their shoulders.

The home invasion was reported at 10:42 a.m. Jan. 25, when HBPD received an emergency call from a construction worker in area.

The victim had rushed outside to a construction crew working nearby for help after freeing herself from the restraints.

The incident began when two women knocked on the door of the home, according to HBPD. When the occupant answered, the suspects pushed open the door, entered the residence and bound and covered the head of the victim.

The suspects took jewelry, credit cards and cash, as well as a blue 2007 Hyundai Tucson SUV with a Florida tag number G157YB.

As the investigation continued last week, HBPD learned that the two suspects had camped overnight on the beach; were possibly seen in various locations on the Island, including Manatee Public Beach, and on the mainland in Bradenton and Sarasota; and had been on the Island for about four days.

Breaking news reports on the invasion and the posting of the suspects’ photograph on websites and Facebook triggered a conversation about crime in the community and fueled calls for a strong citizen-watch campaign.

“These girls need to be caught and put away,” said Laura Lee Shely of Tide & Moon, a Holmes Beach jewelry store burglarized in 2009. “I feel so sorry for the victim. … I for one have had enough. I am open to working with others to form a citizens against Island crime watch group.”

In early January, citizen initiative helped Bradenton Beach police officers foil an alleged attempted burglary. Citizens called police to report a suspicious situation — two men with a ladder outside a duplex — and two citizens detained one of the suspected burglars.

People with information about the home invasion or who had conversations with the suspects can call Crime Stoppers at 866-634-8477 or Leonard at 708-5804, ext. 243.

“We basically want to hear more if they had a conversation or an interaction with these people,” the detective said. “People have been extremely helpful.”

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