St. Louis police say they have recovered more than 800 items stolen over the past year from properties being rehabbed in south St. Louis and St. Louis County.
“This was a sophisticated operation,” said Sgt. Tom Kitchell, supervisor of the 3rd District Burglary Squad. “They would drive around during the day and look for rehabs. They would look at signs in the windows, the permits in the windows, and look at the construction trucks or trucks outside. They would pick their targets a week or two in advance.”
The items police found included old suitcases, power tools, stained-glass windows, a refrigerator and a kitchen sink.
The ring was also unusual in that the thieves would hang onto the power tools and appliances they stole, either to use or resell to other small construction companies, Kitchell said.
“The suspects we caught here were on a different level,” he said. “Usually our burglars that hit our rehab properties will sell what they take right away. A lot of them have drug problems, so they steal the property and sell it for either drugs or alcohol.”
The department realized about a month ago that the burglaries might all be connected, said Capt. Ryan Cousins, commander of the 3rd District. Then about two weeks ago, detectives got warrants to search two separate houses in the city, where they found the stolen property.
About 150 items have been returned to the owners.
“Usually these properties either go to pawn shops, they get resold, and owners does not see these items again,” Cousins said.
Two people have been arrested, but neither has yet been charged with the burglaries. Cousins said the investigation is ongoing.
People who think their stolen items may be among those recovered can contact the 3rd District at firstname.lastname@example.org. They will need to have a police report or some other proof that the items are theirs.
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