Victim helps police nab burglary suspect


Gainesville Police Department Officer Shawn Barnes, left, and Officer Domico, right, escort burglary suspect Rudolph Smith from the police station at 211 NE First St. to transport him to the Alachua County jail in Gainesville on Tuesday. Smith was arrested when the homeowner reported seeing him leaving her residence with some of her belongings and proceeded to follow him at a distance while calling the police.

Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 1:53 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 1:53 p.m.

A Gainesville man was arrested on Tuesday thanks to the alert actions of a woman whose home he is suspected of burglarizing.

A woman called Gainesville Police before noon to report a burglary at a home in the 700 block of SW 21st Avenue.

The caller, Sandy Flory, 36, said she was arriving home with her two small children to see a man, later identified as Rudolph V. Smith, 45, riding away on a bicycle wearing a backpack.

“There was a car on the left side and I was on the right and there was a biker coming and he had his head down and a cap on,” Flory explained to The Sun. “And I looked in the mirror and he (Smith) had what looked like my husband’s backpack on his back.”

Not wanting to falsely accuse the man, Flory quickly went into her home to check for any signs of a burglary. She instructed her 5-year old son and 3-year old daughter to wait in the car as she ran inside to find her home had been ransacked.

Flory got back into her vehicle and followed Smith while she called 911.

“I said, ‘This guy has our stuff!” recalled Flory. “He’s on a bicycle going west. I just kept him in sight and tried to not make it obvious that I was following.”

GPD officers arrested Smith in the 2200 block of Archer Road and found property on him that had been taken from the woman’s home as well as other items that may have been taken from others.

The bike Smith was riding when he was nabbed also belonged to Flory’s husband.

Of all the items police were able to retrieve, Mrs. Flory said one stood out above the rest.

“(He) had stolen my son’s red remote control Mustang and I just kind of gasped when I saw that,” said Flory. “It kind of hit me in the heart as a mom that he would steal from my son.”

Officers had high praise for Flory and her good instincts.

“If we wrote a textbook on how a victim should respond in a case such as this – Mrs. Flory’s actions would be in the first chapter” said GPD spokesman Officer Ben Tobias. “She did everything right by following from a distance, calling 9-1-1 and not putting herself in danger.”

Flory, a homemaker, said she’s normally home during the day, but took her son to the doctor to have his cast removed Tuesday morning. She was thankful that she didn’t get home while the Smith was still inside.

State records show that Smith has been in prison at least seven times for burglary.

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