NORTH PORT — Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office kicked a detective off its SWAT team after he left his vehicle unlocked in December — which resulted in the theft of a sniper rifle and other equipment.

Detective Brian Keane is also suspended for 16 hours without pay starting Friday. He was immediately removed from the SWAT unit, according to the internal investigation documents from the sheriff’s office.

Keane has been with the the Sheriff’s Office for 18 years; a decade on the SWAT team.

Keane’s file will also be marked with a reprimand for violating agency policy.

According to the documents, Keane was given an opportunity to appeal the disciplinary action in a disciplinary conference, but waived the hearing. His unpaid suspension will begin on Friday through Saturday for a total of 16 hours.

Keane, who lives in North Port, left his unmarked duty vehicle unlocked during the overnight hours of Dec. 3.

In his vehicle, Keane left his Sig Saur 9mm duty weapon and an Accuracy International AT 308 sniper rifle.

Leaving the weapons in an unlocked car is a violation of department policy. Officers are required to lock up all weapons, ammunition and other equipment in their homes.

In December, Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight told the Sun that even if a vehicle is locked, weapons should not be left behind.

Along with the weapons, an undisclosed amount of ammunition, a medical bag and a night vision scope were stolen.

According to the investigation, all of the items stolen were recovered with the exception of a taser.

Two arrests were made in December in connection to the robbery.

James Tolbert Jr. and David Byrd Jr., both 18 and both of North Port face a variety of charges stemming from the theft.

According to investigators, Byrd tried to sell the AT 308 for $300 when detectives met with him. When authorities went to Byrd’s home, he showed them where he had hidden the rest of the stolen items.

Police said Tolbert was arrested after he sold the Sig Saur to a friend.

Detectives were able to get the firearm from an identifiable source and confirm based on the serial number that it was the Sig Saur stolen from Keane’s vehicle, the investigation said.

Byrd was previously arrested in December 2017 in North Port for “car hopping,” which is when a person enters cars and steals items of value.

Tolbert has been arrested two times in Sarasota County in 2018. He was arrested Jan. 8, 2018 for armed burglary after he allegedly broke into a home in North Port.

Tolbert remains in Sarasota County Jail on $22,500 bond for two counts of violation of probation for larceny of less than $5,000 but more than $300 and burglary of an unoccupied building, as well as dealing in stolen property and possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon.

Byrd also remains in Sarasota County Jail on a $31,500 bond for two counts of larceny from a law enforcement vehicle of over $300, two counts of dealing in stolen property and destroying of evidence.


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