PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla.- Charlotte County Sheriff's detectives arrested a Port Charlotte man who knocked down 81-year-old woman outside the Cultural Center Friday at 1:30 p.m.and attempted to steal her purse. Thomas John Frankenberger IV, 20, of 2098 Hariet Street, was arrested and charged with Charged with Robbery by Sudden Snatching and Violation of Probation.
The robber tried to pull the purse off the elderly woman’s shoulder; she held on to it so he knocked her down and began yelling. A man in the Cultural Center, 2280 Aaron Street, heard her screams, ran out and chased the man wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt but lost him about a block away. The robber did not get the purse, nor was the woman injured. CCSO deputies, detectives, K9, and helicopter responded and a perimeter was established. A K9 unit began a track, and located the blue sweat shirt taken off by the fleeing subject. The track ended near a canal.
CCSO issued a press release to the media with two photos obtained from Cultural Center security cameras and a description of the robber. At 5:30 p.m. CCSO received ananonymous tip that the suspect might be in a nearby apartment in the 21000 block of Gertrude Avenue. Detectives responded and a 34-year-old man answered the door and said Frankenberger was inside his apartment and told him that he had done something terrible. Detectives located Frankeberger, still wearing the same shorts and sneakers seen in the video. The witness was brought to the area and in a show up, positively identified Frankenberger as the man that attempted to rob the elderly woman and the man he chased.
The man in the apartment told detectives Frankeberger had been staying with him the last couple days. He also said his girlfriend called him on her cell phone and told him to check out the CCSO website (www.ccso.org) as she hadseen Frankenberger’s photos postedas a robbery suspect. Frankenberger said he went for a walk around the Cultural Center about 12:30 p.m., was stressed out about issues with his girlfriend, had not job and was hooked on drugs. When he saw a man coming at him to help the elderly woman, he fled and also pulled off and discarded his blue hooded sweatshirt in an attempt to disguise himself from those looking for him; he said he then ran to his friend’s apartment.
Frankenberger was arrested and transported to the Charlotte County Jail where he remains on $2,500 bond for the robbery charge, and no bond for the Lee County probation violation. This is Frankenberger’s eighth booking.