A Gainesville woman helped police catch the man who burglarized her house.

Rudolph V. Smith, 45, of Waldo, was arrested on burglary charges after Sandy Flory, 36, saw Smith biking down the road near her house, located in the 700 block of Southwest 21st Avenue, with a backpack that looked like her husband’s.

Flory was driving home when she spotted Smith with the book bag, she said. She rushed home to check on her house. She saw her bedroom had been ransacked, and the screen outside her window was bent.

Flory called police while she drove out of her neighborhood. She saw Smith when she got to Southwest 13th Street and followed him onto Southwest 16th Street, then onto Southwest Archer Road. Flory continued following Smith until police arrived. Officers arrested him near The Bartram Apartments, she said.

Police recovered the book bag, which contained two laptops, some coins from foreign countries, a pocketknife, a watch that belonged to Flory’s husband and a remote-control red Mustang car Flory’s 5-year-old son had bought with his own money.

“I’m just thankful nobody got hurt and that I wasn’t here when he was here,” she said. “And we got our stuff back.”

Officers booked Smith into the Alachua County Jail just before 3 p.m. Tuesday, where he remained Tuesday night with no bond.

Smith has been in and out of jail on numerous burglary and grand theft charges, according to the Florida Department of Corrections website.

GPD spokesman Officer Ben Tobias said Flory helped catch a criminal, and she handled the situation well.

“She was a perfect example,” Tobias said. “She hung back. She didn’t try to engage. She did everything exactly right.”

Contact Kathryn Varn at [email protected].

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