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Suspect arrested in burglary, car theft

By GINA PACE
Published December 30, 2006


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DADE CITY - A 33-year-old man suspected of numerous daytime burglaries in Pasco, Hernando and Sumter counties was arrested Thursday and charged with armed burglary and grand theft auto.

A Pasco County detective spotted a late-model tan Mercury on Rose Avenue that had been reported stolen from Sumter County. Willie Rocky Rhoden, of 5311 Durden Road, Lacoochee, was sitting in the front seat, according to reports.

The Mercury had been used in several residential burglaries during mid to late December in the Dade City area, said sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin.

In addition to stealing the car, Rhoden is accused of a burglary that occurred Tuesday.

Tabitha Dees, who lives on Lakeview Drive in Dade City, told deputies she came home to find a man wearing a green Army jacket and camouflage pants. He was carrying backpacks and standing in her living room.

Dees noticed he had a handgun in a camouflage holster before he ran out of the house and into a late-model tan Mercury. Dees gave deputies the license plate number and told them the thief stole $300 worth of jewelry and $50 in makeup.

Rhoden admitted to deputies that he entered the home by force but denied carrying a firearm.

Citing an open investigation, Tobin did not provide more information about additional burglaries in which Rhoden was a suspect, but he did say additional charges were expected.

The Sheriff's Office has recently increased patrols in the area to combat burglaries, he said.

Rhoden was being held in the Land O'Lakes jail Friday afternoon on $70,000 bail.

Gina Pace can be reached at 352 521-6518 or gpace@sptimes.com.

[Last modified December 30, 2006, 06:51:38]


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