ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., June 9, 2015 — A suspect has been arrested in the two robberies and one attempted kidnapping of St. Petersburg-area Realtors® last Wednesday, June 3, 2015. St. Petersburg Police Department’s Community Awareness Manager Yolanda Fernandez notified Florida Realtors that police arrested Paul Pinkston of St. Petersburg on Monday, June 8, at 6:15 p.m. At this time, he is charged with one count of kidnapping with a deadly weapon and one count of armed robbery.
According to Fernandez, detectives arrested the 58-year old when he arrived home from work. A tip led to the arrest after someone recognized Pinkston’s face in a video released by police, which was widely shared by local and national media.
“Florida’s Realtor community can breathe a sigh of relief after this arrest, even as brokers across the state continue to bolster security procedures.” says 2015 Florida Realtors® President Andrew Barbar, a broker with Keller Williams Realty Services in Boca Raton. “We deeply appreciate the work and time the St. Petersburg Police Department put in to quickly solve this crime.”
In the first incident, a man pulled out a handgun, robbed the real estate associate showing him a home and bound her with zip ties, according to police. He then called her husband and demanded a ransom. However, something appears to have spooked the assailant and he fled. The agent freed herself and escaped to a neighbor’s home.
The second robbery occurred nearby less than an hour later. The man again pointed a gun at an agent and robbed her of personal possessions.
Neither real estate professional was harmed. The first Realtor says the attacker talked for about 15 minutes on the phone with her before setting up a showing, and, “At no time did I get any sense that he was anything but a buyer looking for a nice house.”
During the investigation, some aspects of the crimes led detectives to suspect they likely were not dealing with a career criminal. “It was a far-out attempt, in some ways,” said St. Petersburg Assistant Police Chief Jim Previtera in a news conference after the arrest. “We’re confident we have the right guy.”
“Realtors should always trust their instincts when something doesn’t feel right,” Barbar advised Realtors immediately after information about the crime spread. “However, Realtor safety relies on more than instinct. We must assume that every client meeting, every home showing and every open house is a potential safety threat, even when our instincts don’t send a warning. If you’re a full-time Realtor, safety is your full-time job.”