When Michael Brandt lit up a blunt Tuesday morning, his co-workers gave him a hard time. So he skipped work.
It was so hot out, police said, that the day laborer working at Ocean Reef in Key Largo broke into a home and took a nap with a cool air-conditioner running. Before he left they say he grabbed $900 from a money clip.
Then Brandt’s adventure got even more adventurous: Over the next hour, Brandt would elude Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies twice — each time diving into the bay and swimming toward mangroves.
At one point, Brandt, who told police he was afraid of getting arrested because of an outstanding bench warrant, did the backstroke while telling sheriff’s deputies of his woes, police said.
He was finally corralled by a Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Officer on Card Sound Road — shirtless.
“Brandt told me that while at work this morning, several of his co-workers were giving him a hard time and surrounding him because he was smoking a blunt,” Monroe County Sheriff Deputy Kyle Page wrote in the arrest report. “He was scared they would call the cops so he left because he had a warrant.”
Brandt, 22, was arrested and charged with burglary, criminal mischief, larceny and resisting an officer without violence.
Brandt’s exploits got noticed early Tuesday morning when the Labor Ready employee was spotted shirtless and shoeless on a bicycle outside the front gate of Harbor Green at Ocean Reef. When an officer approached him, police said, Brandt told him to mind his own business and fled.
According to Brandt’s arrest affidavit, the officer determined that Brandt had violated Ocean Reef’s strict dress code by not wearing a shirt or shoes. A few minutes later, police said, a citizen called saying a man matching Brandt’s description was trying to flag down vehicles just south of Ocean Reef. When an officer approached, Brandt ditched his bike and dove into the bay, then swam out of sight, police said.
Moments later, police said, another officer forwarded the news that a home in Ocean Reef had been broken into and that police had identified a missing day laborer who was working nearby as Brandt.
A sheriff’s deputy soon spotted Brandt again on Card Sound Road, this time speaking with someone driving a van. When the officer approached, Brandt took off — again — for the bay.
“As he was swimming backwards he asked what I wanted to talk to him for,” said Page, the sheriff’s deputy. “And then he said he’d be in Dade County in a few minutes.”
The officer said the man driving the van identified himself as a supervisor with the company that had hired Brandt. A short while later, Brandt was spotted by a FFWCC officer on Card Sound Road and taken into custody.
Brandt was transferred to the Monroe County Jail in Marathon.