BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — Two people including an off-duty Florida Power & Light contractor have been charged following an incident involving the taking of a bottle of champagne from a hurricane-damaged home.
According to the Lee County Sheriff's Office, a pickup truck with an FPL Emergency Response Team decal was granted access at the Hickory Blvd. checkpoint in Bonita Springs early Tuesday morning. At the time, only the driver was in the truck.
The same pickup was then spotted in reference to a suspicious vehicle call outside a home around 2 a.m. Tuesday. Deputies then observed the driver, identified as 21-year-old Jonah Runnels, at the side of the home, and a second person, later identified as 29-year-old Alyssa Olmstead, in the home's doorway.
A detective noticed Olmstead had an unopened bottle of what appeared to be wine or champagne near her. Runnels claimed he was working on the generator of the home and wanted to see the damages inside.
Detectives went inside the home and found some areas cordoned off due to power having been connected; a walk-in wine cellar was found on the second floor with a bottle of champagne reportedly missing.
Olmstead eventually told investigators the pair had entered the home and taken the bottle, which was reportedly worth about $140.
The pair were arrested and charged with grand theft of property and burglary during a state of emergency plus curfew violations. Runnels was also charged with carrying an unlicensed firearm.
FPL confirms Runnels was a contractor with the company and was not working on business at the time of the incident.
We are aware of a residential burglary that occurred in Lee County. One of the individuals allegedly involved, Jonah Runnels, was an off-duty contractor and not working on FPL business. The second individual has no connection to FPL. The accusations are deeply disturbing and we are extremely disappointed that the alleged actions of one individual could tarnish or discredit the selfless work of the thousands of men and women who have worked tirelessly to help rebuild our community in the wake of Hurricane Ian.