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Date of Issue: May 27, 2009

Two arrested in AMI burglaries

5-27-09/burglary-okeefe.jpg
John J. O'Keefe, 18, of Sarasota
5-27-09/burglary-banker.jpg
Patrick S. Banker, 18, of Sarasota

“We got our guys,” enthused Sgt. John Kenney of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office the morning officers arrested two 18-year-olds for a series of area burglaries.

Still, emphasized Kenney, supervisor of the Anna Maria substation, Islanders need to take crime prevention seriously.

To help, the MCSO is working with Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford on promoting prevention among residents and businesses.

That partnership will involve two town forums on Tuesday, June, 9. One forum will take place at 2 p.m. and another at 6 p.m.

“The time is right,” said Barford, who said the forums will focus on how residents can protect themselves and their property, as well as their neighbors and their neighbors’ property.

During the forum, MCSO’s crime prevention experts will talk about a watch program that Barford described as a “reverse 911.”

When something happens in an area, authorities notify people involved in the watch program.

“They will be dividing our city into sections,” Barford said of the crime prevention department. “I think it will work.”

The forums will take place at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, and were prompted by a rash of burglaries in the Island’s northernmost city.

MCSO also is working with the city on promoting crime prevention tactics among businesses.

“We nipped this thing, but we still need to follow through with a plan,” Barford said of the recent burglaries and the arrest of two suspects.

John J. O’Keefe and Patrick S. Banker, both 18, of Sarasota, were arrested at about 2 a.m. May 19 after a foot chase in Anna Maria.

The two men allegedly were burglarizing the Waterfront Restaurant, 111 S. Bay Blvd., for the second time this month, when MCSO Deputy Alan Judy interrupted them.

Judy was working an overnight patrol shift in Anna Maria and had checked to make sure all was quiet at the Waterfront before driving to check security at Rotten Ralph’s restaurant farther south on Bay Boulevard.

Returning north on Bay Boulevard, Judy noticed a newly parked car near the Waterfront and began to investigate. On May 1, early in the morning, two people had broken into the restaurant and stolen about $4,000.

Judy heard breaking glass and then saw two men.

“He called for backup,” Kenney said.

The MCSO, assisted by Holmes Beach Police Department, established a perimeter and, with the assistance of police dogs, searched for the suspects.

One man was found hiding in bushes on the bayside, Kenney said. HBPD Officer Brian Hall apprehended a second man near Gulf Drive and Pine Avenue.

Inside the parked car Judy had noticed, investigators recovered gloves, bolt-cutters, hand-held radios and masks.

“We recovered a lot of evidence,” Kenney said.

While law enforcement officers were handling the arrest of Banker and O’Keefe in Anna Maria, MCSO deputies were arresting two suspects in an unrelated burglary in northwest Bradenton.

Such crimes are on the rise, according to state and national statistics — 72 percent of businesses surveyed by the Retail Industry Leaders Association reported an increase in crime in the last four months.

“These crimes present unwelcomed challenges to communities of all sizes,” said RILA vice president Paul Jones.

An early news release from the MCSO stated that Banker confessed to the May 19 Waterfront burglary, but O’Keefe, who had fragments of glass in his arm, denied any role.

Later, according to authorities, Banker admitted to committing multiple burglaries.

“We’re working on getting it all coordinated,” Kenney said.

Banker currently is facing at least 14 charges of third-degree felony burglary, according to Manatee County jail records, and O’Keefe is facing multiple charges of third-degree felony burglary, as well as petit theft and theft charges.

And officials said eventually as many as 20 charges may be filed against the two men.

BBPD is pursuing charges against Banker and O’Keefe for a recent burglary at Rotten Ralph’s restaurant on the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

BBPD detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz said Banker confessed to breaking into Rotten Ralph’s and video also “places both of them there.”

Video from the Circle K store in the 100 block of Gulf Drive North also contains footage of Banker and O’Keefe shopping at about the time of the Rotten Ralph’s break-in.

In Holmes Beach, Banker and O’Keefe are considered suspects in a burglary at the Beach Bistro. HBPD Lt. Dale Stephenson said Banker is “being cooperative” and talking with the department.

However, Stephenson said the two men are not considered suspects in a February burglary at the Acqua Aveda Spa and Salon.

Of the arrests May 19, Stephenson said, “It was a great job.”

By 9 a.m. that day, news of the arrests of Banker and O’Keefe had spread Islandwide, with conversations taking place in post offices and restaurants, at store checkout counters and gas pumps.

“My gosh,” Barford said, “it was just like a relief for all of us. I am so thrilled.”

Barford planned to send a commendation letter to the sheriff praising Judy’s actions.

“He was great,” she said.

Kenney also praised Judy: “He did an outstanding job.”

 

On the docket

Court records detail the charges facing two 18-year-old men arrested May 19 in Anna Maria after a break-in at the Waterfront Restaurant.

One man, Patrick S. Banker of Sarasota, faces multiple counts of third-degree felony burglary. His bond was set at $5,000 on each count, reduced from $10,000, and he was being held in the Manatee County jail. Authorities say Banker has confessed, as well as implicated a second man.

John J. O’Keefe of Sarasota, faces multiple counts of third-degree felony burglary and other charges are pending. His bond was set at $5,000 on each count and he was being held in the county jail.

Both are scheduled for arraignment on June 26.

The incidents include:

  • On March 29, 4:30 a.m., the Anna Maria City Pier, 100 S. Bay Blvd., was burglarized. A window was broken and a safe and an undetermined amount of cash were taken. Banker is charged with the crime.
  • On April 13, 1:05 a.m., the Touch of Class Car Wash, 6310 14th St. W., Bradenton, was broken into and about $400 and an undetermined number of checks taken. Banker is charged with the burglary.
  • On April 13, 2:30 a.m., a crow bar was used to gain entry to the Beach Bistro, 100 66th St., Holmes Beach. About $550 was taken. Banker and O’Keefe are charged.
  • On May 1, early morning, the Waterfront Restaurant, 111 S. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria, was burglarized and about $4,000 taken. Banker and O’Keefe are accused in the crime.
  • On May 7, 3:47 a.m., Pelican Pete’s, 12012 Cortez Road, Cortez, was broken into, but nothing apparently was taken. Banker is charged.
  • On May 7-8, sometime between 11:30 p.m. and 6 a.m., Tyler’s Ice Cream Shoppe, 11904 Cortez Road, Bradenton, was broken into, but nothing apparently was taken. Banker is charged.
  • On May 7-8, sometime between 11 p.m. and midnight, two businesses at 101 Bay Blvd., Anna Maria were burglarized. Seven watches valued at $1,400 and clothing valued at $224 were taken. Banker is charged.
  • On May 11, 12:57 a.m., Exit Art in the Centre Shops, 5350 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, was burglarized. About $180 in cash and $4,000 in jewelry were taken but recovered nearby. Banker and O’Keefe are charged.
  • On May 11, about 1 a.m., Ciao’s Restaurant, 5370 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, was burglarized. About $580 was taken. Banker and O’Keefe are charged.
  • On May 11, about 1 a.m., the Don Frank Salon, 5370 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, was broken into. The cash register, however, was empty. Banker and O’Keefe are charged.
  • On May 11, about 1 a.m., Longboat Resort Wear, 5380 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, was burglarized. About $1,600 in cash and $200 in checks were taken. Banker and O’Keefe are charged.
  • On May 11, about 1 a.m., the Blue Dolphin Cafe, 5370 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, was burglarized. The cash register was empty, but about $60 in rolled coins was taken. Banker and O’Keefe are charged.
  • On May 17, 5 a.m., Rotten Ralph’s at the Pier, 200 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach, was burglarized. About $150 was taken. Banker and O’Keefe are charged.
  • On May 19, 1:48 a.m., the Waterfront Restaurant was burglarized. A deputy on patrol interrupted the crime. Banker and O’Keefe are charged.

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