Police: 'Pillowcase bandits' nabbed in string of Ocala burglaries

Police say burglars would give stolen items to family members as gifts

Published On: Dec 12 2012 11:31:56 AM EST   Updated On: Dec 12 2012 11:29:15 PM EST
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OCALA, Fla. -

Detectives have nicknamed two men the ‘Pillowcase Bandits’ for allegedly breaking into homes, ripping off pillowcases and filling them with valuables.

After more than a month of searching, the duo has been arrested. According to authorities, Robert Harrison, 29, and Jonathan Michael Rollins, 36, have targeted at least 17 homes in Ocala in the last two or three months.

The stolen items include rare coin collections, valuable baseball cards, several pieces of jewelry, a pink Kel Tec .380 handgun, and more.

“They ransacked the places, pulled out all the drawers. They threw stuff all over the place,” said victim Rob Rothstein.

Rothstein told Local 6 he returned home last weekend to find his wife’s wedding ring, his baseball cards and several guns nowhere in sight.

“There may be other stuff. I didn't know what was gone. It’s just a mess in there,” the victim said.

Police said they believe the men were casing the home of Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn yesterday. His wife may have come face-to-face with the bandits when two men knocked on the door and she answered.

“She told me about those 2 individuals that stopped by the house wanting to do tree work, yard work,” said Guinn.

The mayor called police to report the suspicious characters, who were soon located riding their bikes down Silver Springs Boulevard, police said. Investigators said the thieves were carrying jewelry that had been stolen hours earlier.

According to detectives, a treasure trove of items was discovered when they raided the men's apartments. Some stolen items had been wrapped up as Christmas presents, authorities said.

“We unwrapped several gifts in the house last night to reveal coin collections, baseball cards,” said Sgt. Greg Martin.

Investigators said they believe those stolen items would have been given away as Christmas gifts if the ‘Pillowcase Bandits’ had not been caught. Unfortunately, detectives said it seems many other stolen items have either been pawned or sold to people on the street.

Ocala police are asking anyone who recognizes the men and may have bought something from them recently to contact them and turn the items in so they can be returned to their rightful owners.

Harrison's bond was set at $52,000. Rollins bond was set at $54,000. However, he received a no bond from outstanding warrants he was served with once he was booked in at the Marion County Jail. 

The investigation is ongoing and more charges are pending.