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Sorority Row burglar arrested after RTS bus driver recognized him from media reports

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Eric Raymond Burns, 42, was arrested this afternoon after an RTS bus driver recognized him from an Alachua Chronicle article that re-posted a video released by Gainesville Police Department (GPD).

The House Mom for Gamma Phi Beta sorority told GPD that she left the sorority house at 7:00 p.m. on January 2 and that the house was empty at the time because the members were gone for the holiday break. She returned at 11:40 p.m. and found a man, later identified as Burns, inside the sorority house. She told an officer that when he saw her, he fled out the back door and rode away on a bicycle.

Surveillance video reportedly showed a man approaching the rear of the building and pulling on a door handle that turned out to be unlocked; he then entered the sorority house. GPD released the surveillance video, which clearly showed the man’s face as he rode under one of the cameras and looked directly at it.

Today at 1:27 p.m., an RTS bus driver saw a man in the 800 block of S. Main Street that looked like the man in the video. He told police that he recognized the man because he had seen him featured in the Alachua Chronicle. Officers quickly located the man and stopped him; he was reportedly riding the same bike shown in the video and had the same blue thermos on his backpack.

Burns, whose address is listed as GRACE Marketplace, voluntarily came to GPD for an interview. Post Miranda, he reportedly identified himself as the man in the surveillance videos and said he had been staying two blocks from the sorority house. He reportedly said he decided to go “exploring” on January 2 and pulled the door handles of the sorority house, which he acknowledged he should not do. He reportedly said he did not go into any bedrooms or take anything besides food.

A search incident to arrest produced “numerous” cell phones, a backpack with a woman’s name written on it, and “many other items.” GPD is continuing to investigate whether any of the items are stolen.

Burns has been charged with burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and petit theft. He has one felony conviction and several misdemeanor convictions, including convictions in 2021 for robbing people at a car wash and defacing road signs with spray paint. He also has convictions in other counties and in Texas.

Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

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