Police investigating more than 40 smash-and-grabs at Jacksonville Beach businesses in the past month said a man arrested Thursday morning after a short, high-speed chase may be responsible for many of the crimes.
John Kiedrowski, 51, was arrested by Jacksonville police who were in pursuit of a suspect in an overnight smash-and-grab burglary at Julie's Jewelry at Atlantic Boulevard and Girvin Road.
Kiedrowski slammed into a pole, got out and tried to run, but was brought down by a K-9, police said. Police said there was about $2,000 worth of jewelry in the bed of the pickup truck, which a witness saw leaving the scene about 3:30 a.m. after the front door of the store was smashed.
Surveillance video from Julie’s Jewelry showed a man wearing a mask and using a concrete block to bust through the glass about 3:30 a.m. The burglar spent a few minutes inside, then ran out with boxes of valuables
Julie Mihalakos, who owns the store, believes Kiedrowski cased her store twice before the break-in, asking random questions and not buying anything.
She's glad he will now face charges.
"It's just inconvenient to the business owners when people break in and we have to pay the damages afterwards," Mihalakos said.
Earlier this week, someone used a brick to smash into Parsons Seafood in Neptune Beach, making off with a cash register.
"It's a little disturbing, but nobody was hurt, so we'll deal with it. We will recover and keep on going," owner Mike Parsons said.
Two and a half miles away, on Penman Road in Jacksonville Beach on Penman Road, Tomo Japanese Restaurant also had a smash-and-grab burglary. The thief stole the cash register and some liquor.
"All the people that are small business (owners) around here, we're just working hard for our families and making a living for our families and provide for our children," Tomo owner Al Chanthalack said. "And I would just hate to have someone else go through what I went through."
Whiskey Jax restaurant and The Cleaners laundromat, both in Jacksonville Beach, were broken into as well, and police say the burglaries were all very similar.
Kiedrowski was convicted of burglary in 2007 and sentenced to 10 years in prison -- his fifth prison sentence. He was released from prison last August.
Kiedrowski was hospitalized after the crash that led to his capture. He was ordered held on $166,515 bond.