HBPD officer arrests alleged sleeping car thief

alleged car thief was arrested Sept. 5 at the Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, after illegally parking the stolen vehicle and then falling asleep in the backseat.

Matthew Rodgers, 24, of Bradenton, faces a charge of felony grand theft auto.

According to the police report, HBPD Officer Mike Walker was on routine patrol just before midnight when he observed a vehicle parked after hours in the beach lot. Walker ran the tag and discovered the vehicle was reported stolen out of Sarasota.

Walker drew his firearm and approached the vehicle, at which time he observed a man sleeping in the backseat. He told the man to show his hands, exit the vehicle and lay on the ground, at which time the man was taken into custody.

According to the report, Rodgers said he paid the owner of the vehicle $3,000 and then picked up three friends for a drive to Holmes Beach. Police located and interviewed the three companions, but Rodgers told police they did not know anything about the vehicle being reported stolen.

The Bradenton Beach Police Department and Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputy assisted in the incident.

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer praised Walker for his due diligence, saying he did “a great job.”

Rodgers was booked into the Manatee County Jail and was held on $750 bond. As of Islander press time, he remained in custody.

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