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Two suspects held in burglary of St. Petersburg mayor's home

ST. PETERSBURG — Police have detained two suspects in the Thursday afternoon break-in of Mayor Rick Baker's house.

The mayor interrupted the burglars himself, according to St. Petersburg police, when he returned to his Old Northeast home on 25th Avenue N early Thursday afternoon.

They ran out the back door and drove off, but not before the mayor got their license tag.

Then around 5:15 p.m., undercover detectives spotted the dark green Ford Thunderbird that police believe the suspects parked in the alley behind the mayor's home.

The detectives stopped the car at 9th Avenue N and 34th Street. The two males inside matched the mayor's description of the suspects, police said.

The mayor got the right numbers and letters but no the right combination, police said. The car was towed and the suspects are being interrogated at police headquarters.

No arrests have been announced yet and police have yet to identify the suspects.

It all started when the mayor returned home around 12:20 p.m., police said. But after he pulled into his driveway, Baker noticed someone had damaged the door and windows, according to police.

The mayor also heard people inside his home. Then they saw Baker, police said, and ran out the back. The mayor saw two males escape through his back door carrying electronics and drive off in a green car.

The break-in is the latest in what has become an increasing problem. Property crimes in St. Petersburg rose 10 percent in the first half of 2009, according to police department statistics, compared to the first half of 2008.

June saw the most burglaries — 418 reported break-ins — out of any single month in nearly four years.

Police Chief Chuck Harmon blames rising property crimes on the faltering economy but said more officers have been assigned to prevent and investigate these crimes.

Baker isn't the only mayor to suffer a break-in. Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio had her Beach Park home broken into just before noon in 2007 and had several pieces of jewelry stolen.

The most sensational break-in also took place in Tampa, in 1997, when a suspect fleeing police broke through the screen of Mayor Dick Greco's townhouse.

Vincent Ford leaped into the mayor's pool, lost his pants and then smashed through a glass door.

He was half-naked and bleeding badly when police caught Ford. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was released in 2007.

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Two suspects held in burglary of St. Petersburg mayor's home 08/06/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 6, 2009 8:58pm]
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