St. Petersburg police served search warrants and made arrests at a pair of pawn shops Thursday morning.
Both businesses allegedly bought items purported to be stolen multiple times from undercover detectives.
Law enforcers learned about the pawn shops from apprehended burglars.
"It's serious business," said Sgt. Tim Montanari, standing outside the Three Geckos Pawn Shop on 4th Street North. "We have victims in this neighborhood that are never going to get their property back because he's making profit on these stolen items."
State law requires pawn shops to register many items with local authorities, so pawned items can be compared to databases of stolen items.
"We have never seen any paperwork from this store, so everything in that store, we could take," Montanari said.
The owner arrested at Three Geckos is identified as 55-year old John Yates Buck.
Robin Powell, 51, was arrested at Thrift Buster store just off U.S. 19. Buck and Powell are both charged with four counts of dealing in stolen property. By early afternoon, detectives hauled away merchandise from the Three Geckos.
Thrift Buster appeared more challenging: An 1,800-square foot building is stacked high with a wide variety of goods, and adjoining lots are filled with hundreds of bicycles and other items. As for the required registration of pawned items, "This place wasn't in compliance," said Sgt. Patrice Hubbard.
She explained the next phase of the investigation could take several days.
"Inventorying everything, videoing and taking pictures and running it through the computer to see if we can find out the true owners, checking burglaries that have occurred recently to find out if the items in the store match up with the items that were reported as stolen," Hubbard explained.
Thursday's arrests culminated a six-month investigation. A third pawn shop in the southern part of the city was searched several weeks ago.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
Didn't find what you were looking for?