MANATEE COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – Tampa Bay realtors are on high alert after a suspect introduced himself as a potential client and tried to force himself on a 69-year-old real estate agent when she was showing him a house in southern Manatee, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
It happened at about 1:35 p.m. Monday in the Whitfield Estates area. The victim was showing the man, who called himself “Jim,” a house when he went to the bathroom, flushed the toilet and told her it was leaking. When she walked in there to check, he tried to force himself on her, deputies said. The victim told him that the owners were nearby and would be back soon, and the man ran out of the house.
“You just don’t know what’s going to happen and for her to think on her feet so quickly and to resolve the situation, tremendous job,” Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dave Bristow said. “She’s very traumatized but not physically injured.”
“We tell realtors if you can, have somebody with you … Unfortunately in this day and age, it’s probably not a good idea to go by yourself if you’re a female anymore,” Bristow added.
The incident has neighbors concerned. “This was disturbing to hear in the middle of the day,” neighbor Thomas Diehl said. “As an older person, it’s a concern too. I’m not as young as I used to be and it concerns you when you hear about things like this because you know they might prey on an older person.”
Manatee deputies described the suspect as a white middle-aged man. He introduced himself as Jim. He is about 6 feet tall and weighs about 250 pounds. He is bald or balding. He was wearing camo shorts, a grey polo shirt with high socks and white sneakers. The victim told deputies the man reeked of cigarette smoke. He was driving a full-size extended cab pickup truck, which was black or navy blue.
If you have any information about this incident, call 941-747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.