OSPREY, Fla. (WWSB) - A Sarasota County man is accused of multiple burglaries and arson over the course of a month, beginning in mid-July.
Deputies say on July 14, a Kubota side-by-side vehicle and three water pumps, all together a value of $21,300, were stolen from a locked shipping container at a construction site in Sarasota County. The sheriff's office says the Kubota was later spotted at the home of 33-year-old John Charles Hicks on West Oak Street in Osprey.
But it wouldn't be until a month later when Hicks was charged with this crime. Deputies were still investigating when they say Hicks went on a burglary and arson spree, damaging several businesses in the process.
The first incident took place on August 5 when around 2:15am deputies say Hicks threw a large rock through the front glass door of a gas station on McIntosh Road in Sarasota. Deputies say he jumped behind the counter to find an empty register and quickly fled.
But the burglary provided deputies with a slew of evidence. In surveillance video, deputies say the suspect was wearing green khaki pants, a black long-sleeved shirt, a camouflage hat, black boots, and mechanic gloves. Distinct hand and neck tattoos were visible. And the suspect was driving a white four-door Mercedes sedan with a sunroof and all black top, door handles and rims.
A week later, deputies were called to a fire at a supply store on South Tamiami Trail in Osprey. They discovered the door had been kicked in and a couch near the door set on fire. Fire spread through showroom, causing $50,000 in damages.
Nearby surveillance video revealed the same suspect and the same vehicle.
Then on August 15, a gas station was burglarized on Stickney Point Road in Sarasota. Around 2am, the front glass door was smashed in.
A few hours later, the front glass door of a liquor store was broken on North Tamiami Trail in Nokomis. Surveillance video showed the suspect removing the cash box from beneath the register and taking scratch-offs before starting a fire and fleeing.
Both the burglary and burglary/arson had the same suspect as the other crimes.
On August 18, after identifying Hicks as the suspect, warrants were issued for his arrest. He was stopped in Manatee County, where deputies say he was taken into custody after he fled his vehicle.
His vehicle, which matched the suspect’s vehicle, was seized and inside deputies say they found the clothing the suspect was wearing, as well as lighter fluid and a propane torch.
In subsequent interviews, deputies say Hicks confessed to his crimes.
Hicks is facing a long list of charges, including four counts of burglary, two counts of criminal mischief, two counts of first degree arson, and grand theft and second degree petit larceny.
Hicks arraignment is scheduled for next Wednesday.