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Detectives arrest Palm Harbor burglars
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Matthew Thomas, left, and Thomas Fields are in the Pinellas County Jail on numerous charges in connection with a series of burglaries in downtown Palm Harbor and conspiracy to rob a Palm Harbor bank.
PALM HARBOR – Pinellas County Sheriff’s detectives arrested two men Oct. 17 for a series of robberies in Palm Harbor and foiled plans for Halloween bank robbery.

Detectives assigned to the sheriff’s Burglary and Pawn Unit arrested two Palm Harbor men, Matthew Thomas, 27, and Thomas Fields, 23, for several burglaries that occurred from about mid-September to mid-October, primarily in the downtown Palm Harbor area.

Thomas was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on 15 charges: one count of burglary of an occupied dwelling, eight counts of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, four counts of dealing in stolen property, one count of burglary – conveyance unoccupied and one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

Fields was booked on 17 charges: 12 counts of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, four counts of dealing in stolen property and one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

Both men remain in jail on bonds in excess of $350,000.

According to the sheriff’s report, the suspects forced entry into as many as ten different residences, usually during daylight hours, and targeted items such as jewelry, electronics, tools and cash. The suspects later sold some of the stolen property at area pawnshops.

Detectives were able to identify and connect the suspects to the burglaries through their activity at the pawnshops.

Following their arrest, detectives obtained consent to search the home where the two lived at 1021 15th St., and in a common area of the residence, located a portfolio containing handwritten notes with precise details about how the two planned to commit an armed bank robbery at the Patriot Bank, 1103 Florida Ave. in Palm Harbor on Halloween.

Investigators say the notes specified that the suspects planned to wear masks from the movie “Scream” and two layers of clothing, one they would remove as they fled the scene. The pair intended to use two rental cars, one for their arrival and the second would be nearby for the getaway.

Among the notes, deputies also discovered drawings and maps of the inside and outside of the bank, indicating the suspects had been inside and become familiar with the facility. According to deputies, the suspects were also monitoring bank employees’ cars and taking down tag information to help them know who would be inside at the time of the planned robbery.

During the interview, both suspects allegedly admitted to the armed bank robbery plans.
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