String of home burglaries along St. Armands worries residents

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SARASOTA - A string of residential burglaries have taken place in an area of town many may never expect it to happen in. Sarasota Police are investigating multiple break-ins at beautiful homes near St. Armands Circle in which the crooks have gotten away with thousands of dollars-worth of jewelry and electronics.

According to neighbors, these burglaries started in May of 2012. Now, almost a year later, at least nine homes have been broken into and still no arrests have been made.

Judie Gustafson wants justice. “I would do anything to catch these people. They invaded my privacy.”

Last May, crooks broke in through the back of her North Washington Drive home, stealing $150,000 worth of jewelry. “They took all the jewelry I had. My mother had passed away recently and she left me a lot of her jewelry. It breaks my heart. The jewelry does not mean anything to anybody but me.”

Since the burglary at Gustafson's, at least eight other breaks ins have happened at the some of the ritzy residences near St. Armands -- all believed to be linked; most of them happening along North and South Washington Drive.

“It's possible the person may be watching the homeowner as they leave the house and knowing no one else is home. They can pry open the back door and come in undetected,” says Linda Deniro with the Sarasota Police Department.

According to police, many of the homes have been unlocked -- with alarm systems not activated. Burglars are getting away jewelry, electronics and cash.

“We are definitely more conscious of making sure the door is locked.” Just about everyone living in the area knows about what's going on, says Jim and Anne Johnson. They have faith the people responsible will be caught sooner than later. “As long as everyone works together, I think this will get solved,” says Ann.

“We are very happy here. We are not going to leave St. Armands because of this,” says Jim.

Nor is Gustafson -- even if she is a little apprehensive. “It’s scary. You are afraid that they are going to be in your house when you come home.”

Police also note that all of these burglaries have taken place during the day.

Police are looking into the possibility that a boat may be involved as a getaway vehicle. A majority of the homes burglarized are right on Sarasota Bay.

Anybody with information on a suspect or suspects should contact the Sarasota Police Department at (941) 316-1199.