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Amateur sleuth detects thefts, delivers evidence to Pinellas deputies

LARGO — Mario Ramirez was laying pavers for a walkway around 8 a.m. Jan. 3 when he heard people in front of his client's home and went to investigate.

The 19-year-old knew something was amiss when he saw two men with several appliances loaded into a red Nissan pickup truck, he said.

Ramirez thought his client was being robbed, so he snapped some photos of the men with his cell phone and called the owner of the duplex at 15195 Wind Tree Drive in the High Point area near Largo. Then, he followed the truck about 2 miles to Best Metal Recycling at 15122 63rd St. N.

"I just tried to help," Ramirez said when reached on his cell phone Wednesday.

Ramirez's quick thinking helped Pinellas deputies nab one of the men accused of stealing the appliances, including a refrigerator, a stove and some iron railings, according to arrest reports.

Mark Anthony Ellerby, 40, of 3617 Meriden Ave., Apt. B, Oldsmar, was charged with burglary of a dwelling and dealing in stolen property.

Deputies with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office were able to identify Ellerby because he produced his driver's license when he sold the items to the recycling business, which made a copy to record the transaction, according to an arrest report. And the photos provided by Ramirez matched some taken at the recycling business, according to arrest reports.

Ellerby was arrested Tuesday night after he was pulled over for having a tag light out and a deputy discovered he was being sought in connection with the theft.

Ellerby has a lengthy criminal history and has served several stints in state prison on convictions of burglary, trafficking in stolen property, cocaine possession and felon in possession of a firearm.

He was held Wednesday in the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $20,000 bail.

News researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

Amateur sleuth detects thefts, delivers evidence to Pinellas deputies 01/19/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 7:39pm]
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