Sarasota police believe a man arrested Monday on a charge of burglary of an occupied dwelling is responsible for a string of similar incidents on Benjamin Franklin Drive, on Lido Key.
Police arrested Francis Gerry, 59, after the occupants of a time-share unit at the Lime Tree Resort awoke around 4:30 a.m. and allegedly found a man in their room, according to a news release. The victims told police that the man claimed to be in the wrong room and quickly left.
The victims decided to take a short walk on the beach and returned to find the same man pacing in front of the room. The man left the area after one of the victims called police.
Police already had the area under surveillance as the result of a string of approximately five similar burglaries in motels and time-share resorts. The burglaries occurred since December and January on Ben Franklin Drive, according to Sarasota Police Capt. Paul Sutton.
The incidents occurred while victims were sleeping. The victims woke up to discover items, primarily cash and jewelry, were missing.
Det. Maria Llovio had provided officers with information about Gerry, a felon with 10 prior burglary arrests in Florida, three of which took place on Ben Franklin Drive, and previous burglary arrests in Maine, Arizona, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
“It’s something he’s been doing for a long time,” Sutton said.
Officers Sean Gleason and Patrick Comac began tracking the area with Gleason’s canine. Officer Dominic Harris spotted Gerry, who matched the suspect’s description, entering a taxi at the Lido Beach Resort.
The victims later identified Gerry as the burglary suspect.
Police arrested Gerry on a single charge of burglary of an occupied dwelling.
The Florida Department of Corrections website, dc.state.fl.us, states that Gerry was released from prison in October.
He remained in the Sarasota County Jail Wednesday in lieu of $15,000 bail, according to jail records. His arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 8.