Red Flag

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Officer nabbed 51 people in Operation Red Flag last month, including nine people from the Venice area.

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office arrested 51 people in an operation during the month of August that targeted retail theft in Sarasota County.

During the operation, deputies focused on retail corridors in both Sarasota and Venice. The public-private partnership between the sheriff’s office and local retailers began in 2013 with the goal of working together to curb retail theft.

“Retail theft increases the cost of doing business for stores, which also affects us as consumers,” Sheriff Tom Knight said in a news release. “Based on crime analysis, we can look at hotspots and deploy resources during these maintenance-type initiatives.

“Our hope is by saturating heavily populated retail areas, we are sending a strong message that criminal behavior is not welcome or tolerated in this community.”

In total, deputies made 51 arrests and filed 103 charges. Altogether, those arrested have 899 prior charges and 404 prior convictions. One juvenile was arrested and charged with petit theft.

People from the Venice area who were arrested include:

Mark Bailey, DOB 08/23/54, of the 300 block of Roseling Circle, Venice, charged with trespassing.

Kelli Bockus, DOB 08/10/70, of the 900 block of Lucaya Ave., Venice, charged with grand theft.

Frankie Damiano, DOB 01/21/62, of Bay Acres Avenue, Osprey, charged with possession of a controlled substance, operating an unregistered motor vehicle and operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

Sam De Mercurio, DOB 05/04/70, of the 3900 block of Sterling Road, Venice, charged with petit theft, possession of drug paraphernalia and two counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Jeremy Jennings, DOB 05/25/93, of the 400 block of Zephyr Road, Venice, charged with petit theft, fraudulent use of identification and violation of probation.

Lance Peoples, DOB 03/15/45, of the 3000 block of Woodmere Park Blvd., Venice, charged with DUI.

Richard Stambaugh, DOB 11/14/69, of the 4400 block of Tortoise Road, Venice, charged with possession of methamphetamine and two counts of violation of probation.

Matthew Tilka, DOB 03/10/93, of the 600 block of Bird Bay Drive, Venice, charged with driving while license suspended.

Jessica Whelan, DOB 06/02/80, of the 1000 block of Royal Road, Venice, charged with driving while license suspended.

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