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Couple celebrate the recovery of their stolen property

TAMPA — Elaine Knight was getting ready for an afternoon meeting April 15 when her phone rang.

"Where are you?" a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy asked.

"Work," Knight, 56, replied.

"How soon can you get here?"

Earlier that day, someone had broken into Knight's home outside Brandon, where she lives with her husband, Steve, 61. Jewelry drawers were upended, the gun case was dented. Two firearms that once belonged to his father were gone.

"Some tax day!" Elaine Knight said.

Two weeks later, a team of Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies staked out a Red Roof Inn parking lot off of Busch Boulevard. They were looking for Matthew Donovan, 19, and Steven Alcantara, 21, two Tampa men suspected of numerous burglaries, including the Knights' home.

Sheriff's Detective Bob Brush said deputies tracked the men after they used a stolen iPad to connect to the hotel's Wi-Fi.

Donovan was arrested on four charges, including burglary and assault. Alcantara is facing eight charges ranging from larceny to marijuana possession.

Tuesday afternoon, about 20 rifles and handguns and several watches wrapped in plastic sat on a table at the Falkenburg Road Jail.

After officers arrested Donovan and Alcantara, they obtained three search warrants, Brush said, and found "probably 70 percent of the stuff" in a storage unit that Donovan shared with his mother.

Brush said he's not sure they recovered everything the men stole, and they also haven't identified all the property owners, which he estimates could take another month.

But to commemorate the occasion, the office held a congratulatory news conference for Elaine and Steve, whose father, Albert, served as a Hills­borough deputy during the 1940s and '50s.

Some of their possessions had been returned — rings, watches, a few of Steve's guns, including one of his father's.

"These guys are my heroes," Steve Knight said, beaming.

One special item, however, was still missing: his father's second handgun.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Zack Peterson can be reached at zpeterson@tampabay.com. Follow @ZackPeterson918 on Twitter.

Couple celebrate the recovery of their stolen property 05/13/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 11:12pm]
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