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Longboat police on lookout for jewelry thief on the run

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

The search is on for Lester Cruz who confessed over the telephone to numerous jewelry thefts on Longboat Key totaling more than $20,000.

CRUZ

Cruz told Longboat Detective Sgt. Robert Bourque over the telephone on June 22 that he had in fact stolen not only a ring valued at more than $20,000, but also stole from numerous other homes he was working in for Precise Blinds, a subcontractor of Lowe’s Home Improvement for window treatment installations.

The case started on April 12 when Longboat Police received a report of Grand Theft. The complainant told the police that Precise Blinds and its employees were granted access to the victim’s home for the purpose of installing window shades and blinds. During the installation process, the employee requested to use the homeowner’s bathroom. The employee was allowed to use the bathroom in the master bedroom and was in the room alone for several minutes. After the installer left, the victim noticed that her ring, valued between $30,000-$40,000 was missing from the jewelry box in the master bedroom.

Sgt. Bourque told Longboat Key News that he immediately interviewed Cruz as well as his boss. Both stated that they had not stolen any property and knew nothing of the issue with the distinction that the boss stated he had never entered the home whereas Cruz did say he had worked in the home and used the bathroom. Sgt. Bourque started digging.

The investigation led Sgt. Bourque to the Sebring area in Highlands County, where it was revealed the suspect, Cruz, had contact with a known drug dealer, Robert Bolen III, trying to trade the ring for cash and narcotics. A review of the drug dealer’s phone records showed numerous contacts with Cruz with numerous text messages with photos of jewelry that the detective suspected was stolen.

After being arrested on drug charges, the dealer told police that Cruz had repeatedly traded jewelry for drugs and an area pawn shop told detectives that Bolen had pawned a necklace and was paid $805 for it.

Sgt. Bourque says that usually pawn shops give about 10 percent of an item’s value, and so it became more certain that the supply of expensive jewelry was likely coming from Cruz who was working inside Longboat Key, Bird Key and Siesta Key inside homes as a blinds installer.

Soon, the path led to a Mr. Valez, who was also called numerous times by Cruz and was identified as recently pawning earrings that were worth $8,000-$12,000.

Valez told police he did pawn the items and paid Cruz with drugs.

Sgt. Bourque traveled to Sebring, FL and met with Bolen and Bolen identified Cruz and provided police with a picture on his phone of one of the stolen jewelry items.

 

Confession and flight

Sgt. Bourque next attempted to contact Cruz and spoke with Cruz’s wife and eventually Cruz called back and said he wanted to tell police everything he knew and arranged a meeting time for early last week.

Sgt. Bourque says that the meeting time came and went and Cruz did not show. When Sgt. Bourque, after numerous calls, told Cruz’s wife of the seriousness of the issues, Cruz called back and confessed to not only stealing the ring but at least four or five other incidents where he says he knows he stole jewelry from various job sites but could not recall the specifics of which homes or what pieces of jewelry he had taken.

“That leads me to believe there could be numerous, maybe 20 or more incidents, because it is very concerning when someone admits to so much criminal activity that he cannot offer any specifics,” said Sgt. Bourque.

Following his confession over the phone, Cruz simply vanished.

Cruz’s wife says she has not seen him for a week and Sgt. Bourque and Highlands The police are also asking homeowners who have had work done by the Lowe’s subcontractor company Precise Blinds to verify and come forward with any information if they’ve had anything missing from their homes.

Longboat Key Police are also looking for the owner of the $8,000-$12,000 earrings that were pawned by Valez, who said he had gotten them from Cruz.

If any homeowner has any information, Sgt. Bourque can be reached at 941-316-1973.

 

 

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Longboat Key News

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