Sheriff's Office Turns Petit Theft into Donation Opportunity 

NEWS RELEASE 18-129
Wyatt, Bryon   IMG_6387 copy

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office donated $500 today to a local veteran’s organization after a Sarasota man stole cash donations during the organization’s fundraiser.  

Deputies were first alerted Saturday to the Publix located at 5391 Fruitville Road in Sarasota for a report of a theft. According to the victim, the suspect exited the grocery store, approached the organization’s fundraising table and stole $240 in cash. Surveillance video coupled with investigative techniques identified the suspect as 34-year-old Bryon Wyatt. As deputies launched their investigation, only two short hours later, deputies with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office (MSO) made contact with Wyatt in Bradenton. According to MSO, deputies initiated a traffic stop on Wyatt along Cortez Road who was showing signs of impairment and fled from deputies, eventually stopping near the intersection of U.S. 301 and 63rd Avenue East. Search incident to arrest revealed Wyatt was in possession of a mixture of heroin and fentanyl. He was subsequently charged with Fleeing to Elude, Possession of a Controlled Substance and DUI.

Sarasota County deputies charged Wyatt, of 5055 Bunyan Way, with a single count of Petit Theft. He has several prior arrests in both Sarasota and Manatee counties for crimes including Dealing in Stolen Property, Vehicle Theft, Burglary and multiple drug offenses. Today he remains in the custody of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office awaiting extradition back to Sarasota.

On Thursday, Sheriff Tom Knight and members of his staff presented Bob Graham of Veterans’ Outreach with a check for $500 using unclaimed cash to reimburse the organization for the stolen funds. According to Sheriff Knight, “This is a unique opportunity for us to give back to an organization that fell victim to a terrible crime. The sheriff’s office is founded on values of integrity, service, fairness and respect; all of which are also ingrained in members of the armed forces. We are so pleased to support this organization and help them get back on their feet. As for any other criminals who think they can take advantage of our community, let this be a lesson to think twice before you act.”  

Veterans’ Outreach is a 501(C)(3) non-profit charitable organization established in 1994. They have offices in Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia. The unique organization serves and honors all veterans and regularly provides immediate relief for veterans facing obstacles with housing, utilities, auto repair, and a variety of other costs. According to their website, “We [Veteran’s Outreach] believe that all veterans, regardless of whether they served in active duty or here at home are entitled to our appreciation and we pledge to serve and honor them for their selfless sacrifice and service.”

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office proudly supports our nation’s military and encourages veterans to seek career opportunities with the agency. For more information, contact the Human Resources Bureau at 941.861.4140.