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Spring Hill man accused of stealing air-conditioner parts

SPRING HILL — A tip led to the arrest of a 36-year-old man charged in the theft of $152,000 worth of air-conditioner parts.

Spring Hill resident Paul Michael Stridiron was arrested Thursday night after Hernando County detectives followed him to a business near the Hernando County Airport.

Deputies watched Stridiron dismantle a Rheem air-conditioning unit and remove copper coils, according to an arrest report. Before backup could arrive, Stridiron put the coils into his car and returned home, the report said.

A marked sheriff's car stopped Stridiron outside his apartment on Azora Road. Stridiron resisted arrest without violence, authorities said, but was taken to the Hernando County Jail.

Authorities said that after Stridiron's arrest, they found evidence linking him to 21 cases of air-conditioner theft in Hernando County. He was charged with 76 counts of grand theft and related charges; some of the businesses had multiple units.

Detectives began to investigate Stridiron after they received information that a Spring Hill resident was selling large amounts of copper coils, fittings and tubing to metal recyclers in Hillsborough County. Detectives said they linked Stridiron to scrap sales in Hillsborough and Pasco counties.

93-year-old robbed at gunpoint in his home

SPRING HILL — A 93-year-old man was robbed in his home at gunpoint Thursday night by a pair of thieves.

The man answered the door about 9:30 p.m. at his home in the 1100 block of Lodge Circle, near Spring Hill Drive and Cobblestone Drive. When he did, a male and a female pushed their way into the man's home. The man fell and cut his head, according to a police report.

The male robber pressed a pistol to the man's head while the woman searched the home. Authorities are working with the man to obtain a better description of the robbers. The pair took the man's wallet, which contained cash, and his cell phone.

The pair then stole the man's car and used it to get away.

The car, a gray 2007 Toyota Corolla with Florida license plate A910YB, has not been located.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office asks that anyone with information call (352) 754-6830.

Roommate accused

of beating woman

BROOKRIDGE — A Brookridge man was arrested Thursday night, a day after authorities say he beat a female roommate with a baseball bat.

Charles Erkens, 63, remained in the Hernando County Jail on Friday in lieu of $5,000 bail.

According to an arrest report, Erkens, who had been an independent contractor delivering the St. Petersburg Times in Hernando County since late February, was renting a room from the woman and returned to the residence on Dinsmore Street on Wednesday to collect some of his personal items.

The woman told officers that Erkens made sexual advances toward her. When she rejected the advances, she said, Erkens punched her near her left eye. He then grabbed a baseball bat, which the woman kept for protection, and struck her across the back, according to the report.

The woman told authorities that Erkens then tried to remove her clothes, but she fled to a bedroom. After sheriff's deputies arrived, the woman was taken to a hospital for treatment. Erkens was already on felony probation for battery of a previous female roommate, according to the arrest report.

The Times has terminated its contract with Erkens.

Spring Hill man accused of stealing air-conditioner parts 05/23/08 [Last modified: Sunday, May 25, 2008 12:05pm]

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