MANATEE — Manatee sheriff’s investigators raided three homes early Wednesday morning after they received information people were running illegal pawn shops out of the residences.
As a result, five people were arrested and charged with trafficking in stolen property.
The bust was made by a task force formed by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office to target the increasing number of break-ins at homes and vehicles across the county.
In the first three months of this year, reported burglaries were up by about 21 percent compared to the same time last year in unincorporated Manatee.
Sheriff’s office spokesman Dave Bristow said since the task force was formed, there has been a 25 percent decrease in break-ins.
“It’s still early, but we know it’s been successful just based on the stuff we got back today,” Bristow said.
Since the task force was created about two weeks ago, there have been a total of 35 people arrested on 76 criminal charges.
During Wednesday’s raids, detectives more than 400 stolen worth about $150,000, according to the sheriff’s office.
The following people were arrested at the three residences:
n Marco Tulio Alverado, 25, and Christopher Corea, 20, were arrested at 215 60th Ave. Dr. W. Alverado has an immigration hold, according to jail records.
n Hector Manuel Romo, 36, was arrested at 5624 14th St. W., Lot 45 A. He has an immigration hold, according to jail records.
n Javier Carillo, 37, and Lorena Moreno-Roman, 28, were arrested at 3817 10th St. Ct. E. Three children, ages, 2, 3, and 5 were taken into Child Protection from the residence.
A resident who lives on 10th Street Court East said he was leaving for work this morning when he watched authorities descend upon his Samoset neighborhood.
“I was surprised. I asked, ‘What happened?’” said the resident, who declined to give his name.
He said Torres-Arevalo and Moreno-Roman always seemed polite enough and had nice things. Outside their residence was a small herb garden, new lawn mower and large stainless grill.
Detectives worked with confidential informants and learned the homes were being used as locations to buy stolen goods. Detectives believe the items purchased were then being shipped Mexico to be resold, Bristow said.
“Basically, we think of these houses as pawn shops. These people are smart. They know they couldn’t get rid of things at a pawn shop,” Bristow said.
Pawn shops require people to sign an agreement stating they own the property and also give their fingerprints to dealers. Traditionally, detectives have recovered stolen items the businesses.
The bust has given hope to people like 36-year-old Frank Haight whose Palmetto home was burglarized last month. Thieves stole more than $3,000 worth in items.
“At this point, after looking on Craigslist and at pawn shops, we had just given up,” he said. “We kind of lost hope, but it’s nice to hear they got back something for someone.”
Most of the items recovered Wednesday were processed and inventoried and remain in storage at the sheriff’s office in a room packed with flat screen televisions, cell phones, video game systems, and computers. Some items were new and remained in boxes.
Investigators will go through burglary reports looking for serial numbers provided by victims to attempt to return property to owners. Otherwise, victims will have to try and identify the items.
Beth Burger, Herald staff writer, can be reached at 745-7919.