LEHIGH ACRES, FL – On March 11, 2021, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a residential burglary where several kitchen appliances were removed from a business. A Construction Special Investigations Detective and East Criminal Investigations Division Detective immediately began investigating.
The burglary victim notified detectives there was a GPS tracker installed in one of the stolen appliances. Detectives were able to ping the tracker and quickly locate the stolen items in the area of 19th Street West in Lehigh Acres. Detectives made contact with Elvis Fonseca Lara, 34, at a home in the 3400 Block of 19th Street West, which is where the location device was pinging from. Detectives discovered 20 water systems, including ones from the burglary on March 11th, inside of the garage.
“Our Construction Special Investigations detective, who focuses solely on construction-related crimes, was able to work cohesively with East Criminal Investigations Division to assist in bringing this case to a close,” stated Sheriff Carmine Marceno. “Thanks to the thorough work of our East CID and Construction Special Investigations Initiative, this thief was identified and is behind bars where he belongs.”
They also located numerous new construction materials in the backyard. These items matched the description of stolen appliances from a string of six thefts beginning on January 19, 2021. A search warrant was executed on the residence, and detectives were able to locate the following items:
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- 22 water system pressure tanks
- 16 water system salt tanks
- 27 water system softeners
- 3 water system aerators
- 22 buckets of paint
- 1 refrigerator
- 1 kitchen stove
- Kitchen cabinets
While detectives were at the residence, Lara admitted the equipment in his possession belonged to him. He was taken into custody without incident. Lara was charged with six counts of grand theft, two counts of unoccupied burglary, and one count of unoccupied burglary to a structure.
It is important to note that between November 3, 2020, and March 12, 2021, there have been 20 water system thefts in the East district. As detectives continue to follow leads and investigate these thefts, Lara may face additional charges.