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Distraction burglars who caused 'havoc' statewide captured in Martin County, deputies say

Suspects posed as landscapers, contractors, utility workers to steal from victims, detectives say
Posted at 1:01 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 20:46:03-04

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Detectives say a group of men who posed as landscapers, contractors, utility workers, and more to prey on innocent victims around the state for years have been captured in Martin County.

According to the Martin County Sheriff's Office, John Eric Thompson, 29, Nikko Gigolo Thompson, 28, and Tom Bimbo, 56, went to a woman's home on Wednesday, claiming to be from a fence company.

“He said we messed your fence up, your wood fence, and we need to repair it,” described the woman, who did not want to be identified. “I said well alright, I’ll let you in the back gate."

She explained the man insisted she stay by his side while they examined the fence.

Meanwhile, the woman says another man went to the house.

“The older man, he rang the doorbell and [my husband] said to come in,” the woman explained. She said her husband has a disability and assumed the man had already spoken to her.

Detectives say the man managed to get inside the home to steal jewelry and heirlooms.

“My jewelry is our life. Things that he’s given to me,” the woman said.

After the crime, the victim suspected something was wrong and called the sheriff's office.

Thanks to her providing descriptions of the men and their vehicle, deputies and detectives were able to swarm the area, locate the car, and pull the men over. The sheriff's office said they found more than 40 pieces of stolen jewelry inside the vehicle.

Detectives said this group of "distraction burglars" are suspected of targeting people across the state for years, typically senior citizens.

In most of the cases, the suspects posed as fence repairmen, landscapers, tree trimmers, surveyors, utility workers, fake contractors, or even ordinary citizens claiming they were looking for a lost dog or missing child.

While one of the men distracted a homeowner, the others slipped into the house to steal money, jewelry, or family heirlooms, detectives said.

"We would like to applaud the victim in this case for her quick thinking and subsequent phone call to MCSO," the sheriff's office wrote in a Facebook post. "That was all our deputies and detectives needed to put an end to this trail of statewide havoc that these criminals have carved out for many months."

If you recognize the men and feel you were victimized by them, call the Martin County Sheriff's Office at 772-220-7000.

The suspects are facing charges of occupied burglary and grand theft.


Posted by Martin County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, October 1, 2020