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MARGATE, FL – Broward Sheriff’s Office Burglary Apprehension Team (BAT) detectives arrested a couple of distraction thieves shortly after they stole cash and jewelry from an elderly Margate couple. According to authorities, on Thursday, July 15, BAT detectives were surveilling a light silver 2000 Toyota Tundra with an unassigned paper tag that matched the description of a vehicle used in several residential distraction burglaries throughout the South Florida area in recent months.
Detectives saw the Tundra stop at a house on Northwest 66th Avenue in Margate. The Tundra remained at the location for approximately 15 minutes before leaving. Investigators immediately contacted the homeowner, who said two people in a silver pickup parked in his driveway, and a woman from the truck asked him to go with her to his backyard. The woman said she had to survey the backyard for future yard work being done by the resident directly behind the victim’s residence.
The homeowner told detectives it was very hot outside, and he kept trying to go back inside his home. However, the woman continued to distract him with conversation. When she left, he discovered money had been stolen from his safe, and a wooden jewelry box containing all his wife’s jewelry had been taken.
Meanwhile, other BAT detectives, who never stopped surveilling the Tundra when it left the neighborhood, detained the occupants for further investigation. Detectives identified the driver as Bob Ely, 58, of Oakland Park, and the passenger as Rachael Demitro, 49, of Oakland Park. In addition, detectives saw a wooden jewelry box matching the victim’s description in plain view. Detectives recovered all the stolen jewelry, some of which was being worn by Demitro, and returned it to the victims.
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Ely and Demitro were arrested and face charges for larceny and contributing to the delinquency of a child. There was a juvenile in the truck during the crime. Ely also faces one count of unarmed burglary of an unoccupied residence.
Broward Sheriff’s Office investigators warn the public to beware of strangers who come to their homes unsolicited and engage them in conversation claiming to provide some type of service. Detectives say this is a ploy to gain their trust and distract them while someone else steals their possessions.