ST. PETERSBURG — Police on Wednesday were searching for a man who robbed one real estate agent and held another for ransom during separate attacks while the agents were showing him homes in St. Petersburg.
The suspect, described as a white man in his 40s, pulled a gun on a female real estate agent who was showing him a vacant home in the 1700 block of Oxford Street North, St. Petersburg police said. He secured her hands and feet with zip ties and called the woman’s husband to demand a ransom. Something spooked the man, police said, causing him to leave the house, and the woman loosened her feet and ran for help from a neighbor.
Tim Adair, who lives across the street, saw the pair enter the house and the next time he looked out the window, saw the woman running down the driveway. Adair said she ran to his front door, he cut the zip ties and called 911.
“I’ve never seen somebody shake so bad in my life,” he said. “She was pretty traumatized.”
Police said the man took the woman’s car keys and her cellphone.
In the second case about one hour later, an agent was showing the man a home in the 5800 block of 12th Street North when he robbed her at gunpoint.
“He didn’t waste any time finding another victim,” said St. Petersburg police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez.
Police described that suspect as a white man in his 40s, with brown hair and a goatee, who is between 5 feet 5 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall and has a medium build. Police said he had a thick Northeastern accent.
He was wearing a straw hat, dark blue shirt and black pants and was driving a gray Nissan SUV, police said.
In both cases, the real estate agents met the man for scheduled appointments, but the name he gave for those was not released Wednesday afternoon. The two agents worked for different companies, and the Realtors association has been alerted, Fernandez said.
Adair said the Oxford Street house had been vacant for nearly two years, but in the last few days it has been shown several times.
“From now on I know I’m going to be outside when Realtors come,” he said. “I want people to see that I’m watching, too.”