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Cops Corner

Officer takes 'bewildered' bird for a ride

A jaywalking sparrow was taken to Save Our Seabirds, the invasive species chose flying away over euthanasia. This and other Sarasota Police Department reports in this week's Cops Corner.

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  • | 5:00 a.m. May 15, 2024
  • Sarasota
  • Cops Corner
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Thursday, May 2

The price to vacate 

10:34 a.m., 900 block of North East Avenue

Civil dispute: Having offered a recently released inmate a place to sleep in her apartment in exchange for $800 per month, a woman wanted the subject male removed from the residence. The man advised he had been living in the apartment as a roommate of the lessee, where he sleeps on a couch in the living room. Upon arrival, officers observed the complainant screaming that she wanted him removed. 

It was not specified whether the two had previously been acquaintances. 

The woman denied having made the offer to the subject beyond spending a night or two until he finds his own place to live. The man, though, produced a document that showed a written agreement to stay for $800 per month, adding that he had already paid for his room and board. He advised he also gave the complainant an additional $200 to pay the water bill.

The woman continued to scream at officers, at the man and even at the landlord who had arrived at the scene. The woman first stated she offered to allow the man to stay for three days, then said he had been staying for a week, and continued to give conflicting statements. 

Officers advised they could not remove the man, which was not well received by the woman who continued to rant until the landlord offered to give the man $500 if he would leave and find other shelter. The man agreed, gathered his belongings, accepted the cash and vacated the residence.

Saturday, May 4

Dingdong dinghy

7:23 p.m., 1900 block of Lincoln Drive

Prowler: A man who may or may not have been interested in purchasing a dinghy parked in a backyard rang a woman’s doorbell to inquire within. Indeed, the dinghy was not for sale, and the woman identified the man as a white male between 50 and 60 years of age with shaggy gray hair. 

After the subject left, the woman suspected the encounter to be out of the ordinary as the dinghy was visible from neighboring properties and an adjacent parking lot with no indications that it was available for purchase. 

An officer canvassed the area for the subject with no success. The incident category was updated to suspicious person.

Monday, May 6

Jailbird released

7:28 a.m., 100 block of South Orange Avenue

Animal problem: In one of the more creatively written police reports, an officer wrote that he observed a small bird — which was later identified as an English sparrow, or “house sparrow" — in distress in the roundabout of Ringling Boulevard and South Orange Avenue.

“I approached the bird, and it appeared bewildered,” the report reads. “Such behavior is consistent with being struck by a vehicle or similar object. I gently grasped the bird in my right hand, and I took the bird to my patrol vehicle.”

Then the officer advised dispatch that the bird would be in transit to the avian rescue organization Save Our Seabirds.

“The bird and I rode together in the confines of my patrol vehicle,” the officer wrote. “I made sure the sparrow's face was forward, so he could see out the windshield.”

The officer was informed that the bird is an invasive species, and if the organization took in the bird it would have to be either euthanized or released into its natural environment which, according to the National Audubon Society, is “Cities, towns, farms. General surroundings vary, but in North America essentially always found around manmade structures, never in unaltered natural habitats.”

In other words, its natural environment is primarily not in nature.

Save Our Seabirds personnel informed the officer it does not conduct releases of invasive species; that responsibility falls on the individual bringing the bird to its care. 

“The staff member checked the drop-off cage where I placed the bird. He opened the cage, and the bird flew away,” reads the report. “Due to the bird returning to its natural environment, my role in the grand theatre of law enforcement was no longer needed.”

Food-borne vandalism

9:09 p.m., 0 block of Bayfront Drive

Criminal mischief: An unusual recipe of items was dumped and smeared on a man’s car while he dined in the downtown area. He told officers that when he returned to his parked vehicle, there was petroleum jelly smeared on all of the door handles and windshield. There was also egg, two brown unknown objects that appeared to be food, and a can of sardines poured over the windshield.

The victim said he was unaware of anyone who would vandalize his ride in such a manner, stating he has no enemies or ex-girlfriends holding any kind of grudge against him. 

Near the vehicle, items that appeared to be used in the incident were left behind in a trash can, none of it collected as evidence due to contamination. The only permanent damage done to the vehicle was a dent above the driver-side passenger door. The victim was advised to call law enforcement should new evidence surface.


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