BRADENTON, Fla. - Manatee County officials say a “county-wide crime spree” over the weekend resulted in damaged property, stolen motorcycles, and stolen goods. Now law enforcement is trying to round up dozens of suspects who may have been involved.
Reports of suspicious activity began to come in around 11 p.m. Sunday. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office says the first report came as an alert from Action Kawasaki in Bradenton that someone entered the front door of the business.
The store owner went to the business and said there was a small U-Haul van and a white Toyota Corolla parked at the nearby O’Reilly Auto Parts. About six suspects were trying to take off with several dirt bikes. One suspect dropped a dirt bike and took off running. Five others, which the victim said were black males wearing black hoodies and gloves, got into the two vehicles and took off on 28th Ave. They managed to steal three green and white Kawasaki dirt bikes and two orange and white KTM dirt bikes, valued at more than $20,000.
Just after 11 p.m., deputies said they saw about 15 vehicles occupied by what appeared to be juveniles and young adults, driving into the AMC movie theater parking lot, but took off when they saw law enforcement. Deputies said the same group was spotted at a Target parking lot about 20 minutes later, but again fled.
About an hour later, around 12:45 a.m., about 30 suspects in hoodies, gloves, and backpacks got out of about nine vehicles and tried to break into J&M Gun Repair. They broke the glass door but couldn’t get past the steel security door. Nothing was taken from the store. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office did not say if the suspects at the gun repair store were suspected to be the same ones who were spotted in the movie theater and Target parking areas.
Around 1:30 a.m., Bradenton police called for assistance from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office after suspects in multiple vehicles began looting businesses in downtown Bradenton.
Deputies responded to the Desoto Square Mall where people had broken into the food court area and broken windows at Champs Sports.
The suspects fled the area.
Surveillance video shows several suspects shatter the store’s window and enter the store, taking an unknown amount of clothes and shoes. Desoto Gold and Piercing Pagoda kiosks were also damaged and appeared to have items missing, according to deputies.
Deputies were called back to the AMC movie theater later in the morning after someone broke the glass at the front of the building.
Surveillance footage shows about 15 vehicles I the parking lot and several suspects approaching the building. Manatee County deputies say a baseball bat was used to break the glass doors.
Deputies said they have identified suspects in each of these incidents, including four juveniles who were in possession of the baseball bats believed to have been used in at least one of the burglaries.
Those juveniles were also driving a stolen vehicle, the sheriff’s office said. They were arrested on multiple charges.
Anyone with information on these cases is asked to contact the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at (941) 747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at (866) 634-TIPS.