PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Deputies arrested a man they believe is a suspect in string of business burglaries in St. Johns County.
William Paul Hesson, 34, of Jacksonville was booked Tuesday afternoon into the St. Johns County jail on a warrant.
According to the warrant, on Dec. 28, Hesson used a sledgehammer to break into Poppy’s Italiano restaurant to steal $600 from the cash register.
Detectives said the same mode of operation was also used to burglarize five other restaurants within a five-day period in St. Johns County. The restaurants have been identified as:
- Tango Sushi Bistro
- Sumo Sushi
- Two Creeks Bar and Grill
- Cinco De Mayo Mexican Restaurant
- Vinos Pizza Grill
Sumo Sushi owner Andy Lau told News4Jax on Wednesday that he has to sleep at the restaurant after the break-in.
"I had to sit there all night to watch my restaurant because we could not find the people to come repair (it)," Lau said. "He cost me $500 to repair windows and I had to buy a new cashier register."
Investigators used surveillance footage to match tattoos on the head of the person seen in the videos, which they said were identical to the tattoos on Hesson’s head.
Investigators said they also believe Hesson is a suspect in 14 other burglaries outside St. Johns County, based on surveillance video and the same mode of operation used to illegally enter those businesses.
According to the warrant, a St. Johns County detective spoke to Hesson while he was in custody in the Duval County jail. Hesson admitted to the detective that he entered each business with a sledgehammer by breaking the glass doors, then stealing cash in the register. All the burglaries happened when the businesses were closed. Hesson also told the detective he burglarized the businesses to support his unknown girlfriend’s heroin habit.
Hesson now faces 14 charges in St. Johns County -- six counts of burglary, six counts of larceny and two counts of damage to property.