Sarasota Police Department detectives seeking public’s help in investigation of May 17 suspicious incident

Officers think Bird Key homeowners were targeted for ‘distraction attempt’

A map shows the location of West Royal Flamingo Drive on Bird Key, marked by the red balloon. Image from Google Maps

Detectives with the Sarasota Police Department are investigating what they say is a suspicious incident that happened on May 17 in the 300 block of West Royal Flamingo Drive on Bird Key.

Detectives believe the incident was what is commonly known as a “distraction attempt,” Genevieve Judge, the department’s public information officer, pointed out in a news release.

A homeowner told officers that about 4:30 p.m. on May 17, a man wearing a baseball cap, a mask and a white long-sleeved shirt, who was carrying a walkie-talkie, knocked on the front door, Judge wrote. The man indicated he wanted to talk with the homeowner about measurements the man needed to take in regard to improving the fence belonging to the homeowner’s neighbor, Judge explained.

“The homeowner walked out of his house and followed the person to the rear of his property,” Judge wrote. “The homeowner said the man was speaking into his walkie-talkie as he walked along the property.”

Less than 2 minutes later, Judge continued, a second man, wearing a large floppy hat, mask, sunglasses and gloves, walked up to the front door, knocked and walked into the house through an unlocked front door. “He was confronted by the homeowner’s wife,” Judge added. That man immediately walked back outside through the front door and said both he and the first man needed to leave right then for another job. They departed in a white Chevy Tahoe with an Uber sign, Judge noted.

The homeowner spoke with his neighbors, who said they were out of town and had not requested any fence upgrade or improvement, Judge added.

This is a still from a security video taken at the home on West Royal Flamingo Drive. Image courtesy Sarasota Police Department via YouTube

Neither man was wearing a uniform suggesting he was “a legitimate fencing contract or installer,” she pointed out.

“Nothing was stolen from the home,” Judge noted.

Video of the two men may be found on the Sarasota Police Department YouTube page at
“If you’re expecting a worker to come into your home,” Judge stress, “Sarasota Police officers suggest the following crime prevention tips to protect you, your family, and your personal belongings:

  • Make sure any workers have proper identification and are driving a marked vehicle.
  • If there is no reason for a worker to come into your home, do not let the person inside.
  • “Always secure and lock all doors and windows, even when you’re home.”

Anyone with information that may be related to this case is asked to call Sgt. Charlie Riffe at 941-263-6089, leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 941-366-TIPS, or going online at