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Police arrest two in theft of generator

After a loud bang awoke her from bed, Debbie Thomen looked outside and saw the red glow of taillights.

Thomen then noticed that the fan in her house was out, as was the air conditioner.

Thomen, whose Largo home had lost power Sunday, thought perhaps the generator her husband set up outside had run out of gas. But when she stepped outside, she saw it was gone.

Then it dawned on her: The bang that woke her up was the generator being loaded into the bed of a pickup. The taillights she saw were the culprits.

Thomen called police as her husband drove the streets looking for the thieves.

Not long after, Largo police captured two suspects on Rosery Road. Police said the suspects also tried to steal another generator from a carport that night. They were thwarted when the homeowner stopped them in the act.

The men, Wendell D. Booth, 23, and Thomas L. Keihn, 31, both of Clearwater, were arrested on charges of burglary and attempted burglary. Police said the pair also tried to sell the Thomens' stolen generator before they were caught; they were also charged with dealing in stolen property.

"It takes all kinds," Thomen said. "It's just unbelievable what people will do."

Thomen said her home lost power during Frances, but her neighbors across the street still had power. She sent her 8-year-old son, Anthony, who suffers from respiratory problems, to stay with them.

But after the latest storm, which knocked out power to the whole block, her husband borrowed a generator so Anthony could remain at home. The generator also powers a medical device he uses to help him breathe. Without it, the family would have to go to family members in Pasco County, Thomen said.

She said the thieves awoke her just after midnight Tuesday. They had broken the family's gate, then pulled the generator off the patio.

Largo police later saw a maroon pickup, with a generator in the back, parked on Rosery Road. Police found Booth and Keihn with the truck, then arrested them.

Police also arrested Booth on charges that he had left the scene of a crash earlier that night and had been driving a stolen car, arrest reports state. Booth, who also is facing trial on another burglary case in July, was being held at the Pinellas County Jail on Tuesday evening in lieu of $35,250 bail. Keihn was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail.