TAMPA, Fla. — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is working to reunite victims of home burglaries over the past year with their stolen valuables after tracking down those valuables and making an arrest in the case.
- Nearly $500,000 worth of items stolen
- DNA evidence used to track suspect down
- More Hillsborough County stories
One victim we spoke to named Joanne told us she lost quite a few items of jewelry when she was robbed, including a rosary she held when she got married.
“It dawned on me we were robbed because I turned the corner towards the dresser and there was stuff everywhere,” she said.
Countless items stolen from homes in Westchase, Carrollwood, and Citrus Park over the past 14 months. Those items totaled in value close to $500,000.
DNA led to suspect, valuables
Detectives finally pinned the robberies on a suspect — Gilberto Vasquez.
Detectives said he'd break into homes using the rear sliding glass door.
After a lengthy investigation, they were able to gather DNA evidence and tracked him to Massachusetts, where they found the trove of stolen items.
Investigators think he was taking the items up north to relatives to sell, possibly melting down some of the jewelry.
Reuniting victims with lost treasures
As the investigation continues, deputies at least can begin the process of reuniting victims with the precious items they thought were gone for good.
“The countless hours that we lost being that we put into it, as long as we could see the smile on [the victims’] face and just that peace they have from just one item makes it all worth it,” said Detective Matt Gaiter.
Vasquez will be extradited to Tampa. Investigators are looking into whether anyone helped him in Massachusetts, and whether any additional charges need to be filed.
If you believe your items are being held as evidence, you’re asked to contact the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.