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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Homeless man breaks into auto repair shop to sleep, deputies say

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 36-year-old homeless man after he was accused of breaking into a local automobile repair shop and stealing approximately $200 worth of items.

On Wednesday, multiple MCSO units responded to Lake Automotive located at 13501 E Highway 25 in Ocklawaha in reference to a burglary in progress.

Upon arrival, an MCSO deputy with a K-9 partner made contact with the business owner/victim who advised that he had noticed a bicycle on the east side of the building that did not belong to him. The victim told the deputy that he entered the business and spotted the legs of an unknown person laying on a couch, according to the arrest report.

The victim advised that no one was supposed to be inside the business at that time, and he stepped outside to contact law enforcement.

The deputy entered the business with a K-9 partner. In the MCSO report, the deputy noted that the suspect, later identified as Eugene Francis Hannah, had locked himself inside a closet.

Eugene Francis Hannah
Eugene Francis Hannah

The closet door was opened, and Hannah was observed on top of shelves. While the deputy was giving verbal commands for Hannah to get down from the shelf, Hannah grabbed a blue backpack and threw it on the floor. He eventually walked out of the closet and into the entrance area of the business where he was detained by several deputies, according to the MCSO report.

The blue backpack was searched, and the MCSO report stated that the following items were found inside: a knife with a red and black handle ($50 value), a key for a toolbox ($100 value), and a makeup bag ($50 value). The victim advised that the makeup bag belonged to one of his relatives.

Hannah was transported to an MCSO district office for an interview. After being read his Miranda rights, Hannah stated that he has been homeless for a year and was “looking for a place to sleep.” He claimed that two unknown people had let him into the  business through the side garage door, according to the MCSO report.

Hannah claimed that the two individuals – an older white man and woman – were “best friends with the owner’s wife.” He further claimed that the individuals told him that he could sleep on the couch, and they allegedly left the area shortly after they let Hannah inside the business.

During the post-Miranda interview, Hannah stated that he had found the makeup bag in a truck near the business. Hannah also admitted to taking the knife, and he claimed that the older male had a similar toolbox key in his hand as he was leaving. Hannah told investigators that he believed the older man had “slipped” the toolbox key into the blue backpack while Hannah was sleeping.

The MCSO report stated that the victim’s wife does not have any older male or female friends who have access to the business.

Hannah was arrested and transported to Marion County Jail where he is currently being held on $6,000 bond. He is facing a felony charge for unarmed burglary of an unoccupied structure and a misdemeanor charge for first-degree petit theft over $100 but less than $300.

A court date has been scheduled at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 20, according to jail records.