A homeless man was arrested Monday afternoon on multiple burglary and theft charges, stemming from an investigation that began in the morning after victims began calling in reports to the Sheriff’s Office. The successful investigation included assistance from specialty units including aviation, available marine units, and canine. It ended in the arrest of a suspect after an alert citizen took the initiative to immediately say something to law enforcement after observing suspicious behavior in the parking lot of a local store.
The investigation began when deputies responded to a residence on Faust Drive at 9:30am in reference to a stolen motorcycle. The motorcycle was eventually located approximately 50 yards away, pushed behind a business near the home. The victim also observed that his vehicle, left unlocked, was entered during the night. Nothing was missing from the vehicle. During a canvas of the area, Matthew O’Connor was field interviewed, however at the time there was no evidence or indication he was related to the crime.
At 2:30pm, a residential burglary was reported on McKinley Terrace. The victim reported leaving his secured residence at 1:30pm. When he returned, he observed a rear window broken. Several bags were on his bed, containing items of his personal property. Drawers were rummaged through and his jewelry cases were emptied. A handgun was removed from a drawer, but was later located in one of the bags. The victim reported approximately $500 in jewelry was missing from the home. While processing the scene, a set of keys and a cell phone were located in the yard near an exterior set of stairs to the residence. These items appeared to be dropped by a suspect fleeing the residence.
At approximately 4:00pm, a deputy patrolling the area was flagged down by a homeowner on the Wilmington Boulevard. She (victim) advised the deputy she just returned home from work and believed someone may be inside her residence located on the 9000 block of Wilmington. The victim stated that when she opened her garage door, she noticed a wet pair of khaki shorts and sneakers laying on the floor along with a lighter. She observed an air compressor partially pulled from a shelf and curtains to one of her pool sliders open, which were closed when she left for work. No one was located inside the residence. The victim reported a bicycle was missing, which was later located in the woods behind the home. A black bag, black guitar case, and sandals were located in the woods near the bicycle. The bag and guitar case contained items stolen from the home, including an airsoft rifle, guitar, cell phones, and miscellaneous property. Property from the burglary on McKinley Terrace was also in the bags. A laptop and safe, also reported missing from the residence, were later recovered.
Deputies also responded to the 6000 block of Ronda Street at 4:30pm for a reported residential burglary. During this incident, the victim heard a knock at his rear sliding door and observed a male (later identified as O’Connor) standing on his porch soaking wet. O’Connor apologized for using his pool without permission and requested something to drink. The victim ordered him to leave and secured his residence. The victim stated that O’Connor took a pair of his shoes and departed the residence, walking toward a nearby canal. The victim later determined that O’Connor had removed clothes from a hangar on the porch.
On the opposite side of the canal, nearest Winchester Blvd, the deputy observed clothing items that appeared to have been left there recently. There was a pair of blue pajama pants and a pair of tan, Wrangler pants with a brown belt still through the loops. Both pairs of pants were still saturated and the tan pants had large mud stains. In the pockets were clear plastic bags containing a large quantity of coins, made up of both US and Irish
denominations. Also in the pockets were a wood handled pocket knife, a black bag with a chrome pocket knife, a gold cigarette lighter, a ZTE cell phone battery, a bottle of black fingernail polish, a pink card holder with a personal note inside, a Samsung cell phone charger, and an Ignition Key for a Jeep Wrangler. The ZTE phone battery belonged to the suspect’s cell phone, which had been found in the yard at McKinley Terrace.
While processing this scene, an alert citizen flagged down a deputy to report a suspicious person at the nearby Walmart. The citizen reported seeing the CCSO helicopter searching the area. The citizen reported observing a male wearing odd-fitting clothes loitering in the Walmart parking lot, appearing to be attempting to enter vehicles. Deputies made contact with the person and identified him as Matthew O’Connor, the subject from the earlier field interview. The victim from Ronda Street was transported to Walmart and he identified O’Connor as the person on his back porch.
Matthew O’Connor was transported to a district office to speak to deputies about the burglaries. He was arrested after providing a statement to the detectives.
An additional vehicle burglary on Via Deluna was attributed to Matthew O’Connor based on the investigation. The burglary was to an unlocked vehicle, during which approximately $100 in miscellaneous personal property was stolen. O’Connor is also charged with removing a pressure washer from a storage shed owned by the Motel 6 on S. McCall Rd and hiding it in a nearby wooded area. During this same time frame, deputies also responded to Hopper Lane for a stolen bicycle. The victim stated that the bicycle was removed from a lawn trailer sometime during the afternoon. The bicycle was located by deputies in the yard of a home under construction on Ronda Street, less than 1/2 mile away. Inside the Ronda Street construction, property from the Wilmington and McKinley burglaries was recovered.
The suspect, Matthew O’Connor (8/31/91), advised he is homeless but is also on probation for theft out of Polk County. He was arrested on the following charges:
Burglary of Dwelling Structure or Conveyance While Armed (2 counts)
Burglary of an Unoccupied Dwelling Unarmed (3 counts)
Burglary of an Unoccupied Conveyance Unarmed (2 counts)
Grand Theft (more Than $5000 Less Than $10K)
Grand Theft (more than $300, less than $5000)
Grand Theft from Person 65 or Older ($300 to $10K)
Grand Theft of Firearm
Grand Theft of Motor Vehicle
Dealing in Stolen Property
Tamper With or Fabricate Physical Evidence (3 counts)
Petit Theft 2nd Degree (<$100)
Petit Theft 1st Degree ($100-$300)
Trespass on Posted Construction Site
Violation of Probation
Matthew O’Connor is currently held on no bond at the Charlotte County Jail.
The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office thanks the citizens of Englewood who provided tips and leads to Detectives throughout the course of the investigation. This partnership between residents and law enforcement is invaluable in the quick capture of criminals who prey on members of our community.