On Oct. 2 at 12:50 p.m., Venice police officers were dispatched to the report of a male in a landscaping van luring a 20-year-old female into his vehicle for sexual favors. Upon arrival to the area the victim relayed to officers that the male subject had initially lured her into the vehicle with the promise of a landscaping job.

This conversation quickly changed into the suspect offering the victim money in exchange for sexual acts to which she refused and demanded to be immediately let out of the vehicle. The suspect refused to stop the vehicle and when she pulled on the door handle to escape she realized it did not work. The victim acted quickly and reached to the outside door handle, opened the door and jumped out of the slowly moving vehicle and ran to safety, where she later called for police assistance.

Patrol units, detectives and the marine patrol, quickly saturated the area searching for the suspect and vehicle. As the search continued, Officer Demitri Serianni, the initial responding officer, observed a vehicle matching the description and conducted a traffic stop. Subsequent to the traffic stop the victim positively identified the driver and vehicle.

The driver, Ronald Richard-Harold Karas (date of birth: 12/25/71), 5000 block of Syracuse Road in South Venice, was the arrested and charged with false imprisonment, battery, solicitation for prostitution, possession of cannabis less than 20 grams, and possession of drug paraphernalia. A check of Mr. Karas revealed that he is on active probation for a sex offense stemming from an arrest in North Dakota where he was charged with luring a minor by computer and use of a minor in sexual performance.

The investigation into Karas continues to see if he may be linked to any similar events in the area. Anyone who has been a victim of Ronald Karas, or who has had – or knows anyone who has had – an incident similar in nature should contact the Venice Police Department at (941) 486-2444