Longboat Key police suspect a longtime maintenance supervisor at Windward Bay condominium is responsible for a string of periodic thefts of jewelry and other small valuables at the 151-unit community.
The latest incident occurred Feb. 2, when a four-carat diamond ring valued at $85,000 and other jewelry pieces were stolen from a unit.
Detective Kristina Roberts identified 17-year maintenance supervisor Michael Artman as the prime suspect in the theft and had also considered him the suspect in the ongoing string of incidents.
The four-carat stone, minus the ring, was located and seized in a Manhattan jewelry clearinghouse and traced back to a Bradenton Beach jewelry store, where Artman allegedly sold the ring.
Police say Artman confessed to the burglary/theft and at least two dozen other thefts from Windward Bay during his time of employment. A subsequent investigation into the Bradenton Beach jewelry store showed that Artman had been selling jewelry to the business for years on dates linked closely to the dates of prior condo burglaries.
Artman is currently being held in the Manatee County Jail on $22,500 bond on charges of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, theft after trust and dealing/possession of stolen property.
Police hope to charge Artman and the jewelry store owners with other crimes but believe recovery of additional jewelry is unlikely.
Police say that when Roberts asked Artman how he got away with so many burglaries for so long, he replied, “I couldn’t have done it if they locked their doors.”
For more information, pick up an April 3 copy of the Longboat Observer.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].