Panama City Beach Man Arrested In Connection To String Of Local Burglaries


officer, dwayne bruce.jpgA man suspected of burglarizing 20 Gainesville businesses last week was arrested Wednesday afternoon by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

Dwayne Bruce Officer, 43, of Panama City Beach was arrested after Bay County officials served a search warrant on his home and found the shirt worn by the suspect in a surveillance video, according to the Gainesville Police Department.

GPD spokesperson Ben Tobias said they also found the backpack and pry tool used during the burglaries, as well as four stolen guns.

Officer is also connected to an additional 38 cases in Pensacola, 18 in Clearwater, six in Tallahassee and six in Panama City Beach, Tobias said.

GPD stated in a release that Sgt. Courtnay Roberts Jr. saw Officer riding a bicycle near the Knights Inn on NW 13th Street the night following the burglaries.

“Officer was just riding around kind of randomly and just not in a place he should have been,” Tobias said.

At the time, Officer was not linked to the crimes, so Roberts took down his name, vehicle and bicycle information according to the release.

Investigators later reviewed surveillance video from three businesses, which identified Officer as a suspect, Tobias said.

Emily Pridgen, owner of Bouncin’ Big, said she was one of the businesses to have surveillance cameras set up in the entryway.

She said police officers collected the footage and were able to identify Officer’s height and other information.

According to Pridgen, the suspect used a crowbar to force his way into Bouncin’ Big where he found all the cash on hand. She said he stole $350 in cash and $8 in snacks – Doritos and Coke – but left all the checks, as well as $1 bills and coins.

He then left everything stacked very neatly, she said.

Pridgen said that although she felt violated watching the footage, she is grateful to have had cameras set up.

“To know he was caught gives me a little bit of satisfaction that he won’t be doing this to any other potential business owners,” she said. “It gives me peace to know another person with a bad heart is off the streets.”

Sue Morrow, a licensed mental health counselor, said her office was also broken into.

She said her first concern when she found out about the burglary was that patient files had been stolen.

But, according to the Morrow, the suspect only took about $64.

Tobias said Officer, who called himself a salesman, got about $1,500 to $2,000 from the Gainesville area.

“We found that he was extremely efficient,” he said. “He went in for cash boxes and areas that he knew he could get small amounts of cash.”

Tobias said Officer was looking for the path of least resistance.

Officer is being held at the Bay County Jail under a $975,000 bond.

About Heather Reinblatt

Heather is a reporter for WUFT News who may be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news

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