Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County appliance thief gets seven years

BROOKSVILLE — Out of work for nearly a year, with a wife and three children, Michael Lander was in desperate need of money. So he started buying and selling kitchen appliances on Craigslist, hoping to turn a quick profit.

Over time, authorities said, Lander, a 37-year-old former Pasco County teacher, found that wasn't profitable enough to feed his family and pay the bills.

But his solution wound up sending him to prison.

Authorities said that over the course of a year, Lander and his wife broke into dozens of homes in northwest Hernando County and burglarized them or stole copper from air-conditioning units, then sold the goods online.

Lander pleaded guilty Monday to four counts of burglary of a dwelling and a count of dealing in stolen property, a plea agreement that sends him away for the minimum-mandatory sentence of seven years and keeps his wife and co-defendant, Jennifer Lander, out of prison.

"This is horrible," said David Bauer, Lander's public defender. "But people do whatever they can to support their family when the economy goes down. And all they do is dig a hole for themselves."

Jennifer Lander, 36, agreed to plead guilty to a charge of dealing in stolen property. She was given a sentence of 15 years of probation and restitution, which prosecutors estimate could reach as high as $40,000 after all the appliances are accounted for.

The couple's case was resolved only a month after arrests were made in an investigation that had befuddled the Hernando County Sheriff's Office for about a year.

In mid March, the Sheriff's Office issued a news release aimed specifically at residents of the Royal Highlands section of Hernando County, warning them of thieves who were plundering foreclosed homes.

A total of 81 homes had been burglarized, with losses estimated at $64,990.

Within days of the release, authorities got a break in the case: Lander broke into a vacant home on Sandpiper Avenue and stole a refrigerator and stove. The refrigerator had been outfitted with a Global Positioning System.

Detectives didn't know it at the time, but Lander had already put the refrigerator on Craigslist, and an unsuspecting buyer went to Lander's home at 4051 Longbranch Court. Deputies tracked the appliance to the home of the buyer, who told investigators he'd paid $225 and did not know it was stolen.

Detectives went to Lander's house, found the stolen stove and arrested him.

Lander admitted burglarizing dozens more homes in Royal Highlands, specifically targeting kitchen appliances, authorities said. Lander told deputies he was selling them on Craigslist.

He told detectives he had supported his family for at least the past year by selling appliances. Investigators checked Craigslist and found 35 appliances that Lander had listed in March alone.

"It was a quick way to make money," prosecutor Erin Daly said. "But it was illegal. And it leads to this kind of situation."

At his sentencing hearing Monday, Lander burst into tears and whispered his responses to Circuit Judge Jack Springstead. His eyes still watery, Lander nodded at his wife — who was preparing for her sentence — as he was led out of the courtroom.

Hernando County appliance thief gets seven years 04/19/10 [Last modified: Monday, April 19, 2010 11:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ex-intelligence chief Clapper questions Trump's fitness to hold office (w/video)

    National

    James R. Clapper Jr., former national intelligence director, questioned President Donald Trump's fitness for office following his freewheeling speech in Phoenix Tuesday night, which Clapper labeled "downright scary and disturbing."

    James R. Clapper Jr., former national intelligence director, questioned President Donald Trump's fitness for office following his freewheeling speech in Phoenix Tuesday night, which Clapper labeled "downright scary and disturbing." [Associated Press]
  2. E Fletcher Avenue may be closed weeks for cavern repairs

    Roads

    Commuters near the University of South Florida will want to find alternate routes with work continuing to repair a "cavern" under E Fletcher Avenue near the Hillsborough River.

     Commuters near the University of South Florida will want to find alternate routes with work continuing to repair a "cavern" under E Fletcher Avenue near the Hillsborough River. [10News WTSP]
  3. Pasco eyes favoring local vendors for county business

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco commissioners want to give a leg up to local businesses bidding on county government contracts.

    "It's an economic driver. We owe it to the folks to keep money here, keep jobs here,'' said Pasco Commissioner Mike Wells Jr. about a proposed local preference purchasing ordinance.
  4. Insurance regulators fret over a spike in auto glass claims

    Banking

    TALLAHASSEE — Three months ago, state regulators weren't tracking a surge in broken auto glass claims, particularly in Tampa Bay.

    The issue has their attention now.

    The Office of Insurance Regulation is taking on assignment of benefits abuse in the 2018 legislative session. Pictured is Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier. | [Times file photo]
  5. Rick Baker lowers expectations before St. Pete mayoral primary

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rick Baker officially lowered expectations in the mayoral race on Tuesday, saying his “battle for the future of the city” against Mayor Rick Kriseman might last until November.

    Baker has consistently led in local polls and fundraising totals this summer. But at a fundraiders …

    Rick Baker addresses supporters on Beach Drive Tuesday