Sarasota neighbors help nab suspected lawnmower thief

SARASOTA, Fla. - Sarasota is one of those cities where a lot of folks get around on bikes.  But on Sunday, one of those bikers tried pulling a fast one over on Stevens Drive by going into Ralph Beam's carport and taking his lawnmower.

"It was gone," he said flatly.  "The first time I saw it was when the police brought it back."

Back in same day, thanks to a neighbor who wasn't going to look the other way.

"That was a first," said Jeff Motchok, who has lived next door to Mr. Beam for years.  "I mean he (the would-be thief) was out here five minutes trying to tie it to his bicycle, and he still had trouble with it.  I didn't think he was going to get too far, but you know, they got him."

Jeff says he followed 53-year-old Michael Barwick down US 41, with lawnmower in tow until cops could catch up and capture him.

Mr. Barwick listed his address as 507 Kumquat.  But that is the Resurrection House, sort of a halfway house for the homeless.  

Barwick didn't live there, but he did get his mail there.  So do many of the center's clients who are between permanent addresses or jobs.  But even here, there was no sympathy.

"He was a fool," said Darmon Milms, who was riding his bike to and from weed-eating jobs around town.   "You break the law, you've got to go to jail."

"Yeah," agreed the burglary victim, Ralph Beam, who also told me he had a bike stolen from the same carport just the day before.  "He's in jail with a high bond.  I'm surprised that they put that high a bond on him because he's going to be sitting in there for a while."

And the folks out along Stevens Drive will be sitting a little more comfortable knowing that the neighborhood watch here works, thanks to neighbors like Jeff, who thinks there are a lot more like him out here.

"I would hope so.  And I think everybody in this neighborhood...  We've all lived here a long time," he said.  "So we all know each other very well."

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