Broward man arrested in Palm City, charged in string of jewelry thefts from expensive homes in four countiesFebruary 18th, 2011 by TCPalm.com
By Elliott Jones
PALM CITY — An ongoing investigation into a string of jewelry thefts from affluent homes in four counties has led to an arrest.
Detectives picked up Theodore Raia at 7:55 p.m. on Wednesday at his truck in Palm City Park, after the man rode a bicycle around neighborhoods in the community.
The 36-year-old, self-described unemployed landscaper from Pembroke Pines was jailed on charges of loitering and prowling, possession of burglary tools and knowingly driving with a suspended driver license.
He is also accused of tampering with evidence because he allegedly stomped on his cell phone at the jail.
So far, he hasn’t been charged in the seven burglaries, from Jan. 20 to Feb. 13, of Palm City homes fronting on golf courses or nature preserves, according to detectives.
He is being held on outstanding warrants in home-heist cases from Sarasota, Broward and Palm Beach counties. His criminal record includes 20 arrests ranging from burglary to marijuana possession.
The Sarasota County warrant was for a case similar to those in Palm City — jewelry taken from a home fronting on a golf course, records show.
Martin County Sheriff’s Office deputies may add to that as they continue investigating his possible connection to the Palm City break-ins in which thousands of dollars in jewelry was taken by someone entering through sliding glass doors or garages, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman said.
The homes fronted either golf courses or nature preserves. In some of the cases, bicycle tracks were found outside the homes and people spotted a man on a bicycle nearby.
A detailed tip to Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers on Feb. 14 led to Raia’s arrest. The caller gave Raia’s address and said that stolen jewelry was being sold in antique stores. Only occasionally does Crime Stoppers get tips that detailed, said spokesman Ken Wilson. In this case, the caller will get up to a $1,000 reward.
On Wednesday a deputy spotted Raia’s truck and followed it to Palm City Park. There, according to arrest reports, Raia allegedly took a bicycle off the truck and headed off down Southwest Martin Downs Boulevard, Southwest High Meadows and into other neighborhoods before going out of sight for 20 minutes.
Deputies waited and confronted him at the park.
He refused to answer questions, deputies said in their report.
He is being held under on $11,150 bail in Martin County. There is no bail on the Sarasota and Broward county warrants.