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Aug 7, 2023

Polk County Sheriff’s Office makes quick arrest on armed robbery suspect in Winter Haven

Media Contact: Brian Bruchey, PIO

The search for the lone suspect in an early morning armed robbery ended less than 25 minutes after Polk County Sheriff's Office deputies were notified of the crime on Saturday, August 5, 2023.

The robbery at the Circle K store at 4980 Spirit Lake Road near Winter Haven was reported at 2:57am. Following a foot chase through residential neighborhoods, deputies apprehended the suspect, 24-year old Keith Rhoden of Winter Haven at about 3:20am.

“The responding patrol deputies, aided by K-9 and Aviation, handled this robbery exactly how you would want them to; this was a textbook response that resulted in a dangerous criminal being taken off of the streets very quickly. Credit also goes to the victim who provided a great description of the suspect and the direction which he fled.” Grady Judd, Sheriff

According to the arrest affidavit, Rhoden approached the Circle K employee outside of the store, pointed a handgun at him, and ordered him to take him to the cash register.

In addition to taking money from the register, Rhoden also stole some Black & Mild cigars and a bottle of Mountain Dew before fleeing out of the store, heading north.

As deputies arrived in the area, they saw Rhoden, who was wearing black clothing and white Crocs, walking near a field north of Spirit Lake Road and Thornhill Road.

Rhoden was found by deputies hiding under a pickup truck at a residence in the Oak Preserve neighborhood, and he surrendered.

The stolen money and cigars were found in Rhoden’s possession, as well as the neon green face mask that he wore during the robbery. A handgun was recovered nearby.

Keith Rhoden was arrested and charged with: robbery with a firearm (FL), armed burglary structure (F1), and violation of probation (felony petit theft). His prior criminal history includes petit theft, resisting arrest without violence, and providing false name to a LEO. His probation for felony petit theft had just started on July 20, 2023.

There were no injuries to the victim, deputies, or the suspect.