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My wife helped me steal appliances, Hernando man tells investigators

BROOKSVILLE — His partner for life turned out to be his partner in crime.

Then he gave her up.

Michael Anthony Lander, the man who authorities say admitted to stealing appliances from vacant homes in the Royal Highlands area, told investigators he got help from his wife.

Acting on that information, Hernando authorities arrested 36-year-old Jennifer Lynn Lander at the couple's Spring Hill home Friday morning and charged her with four counts of burglary and four counts of grand theft, according to a news release.

Investigators arrested Michael Lander, 37, on Wednesday after tracking him down using a global positioning device planted on an appliance.

Lander, a former teacher for Pasco County schools, told detectives he had supported his family for at least the past year by selling stolen appliances. He said his wife helped load the appliances into the couple's Ford Explorer, the release said.

On Tuesday, authorities say, Michael Lander broke into a vacant home on Sandpiper Avenue and stole a refrigerator and stove. The refrigerator had been outfitted with a GPS tracking device. It's unclear whether his wife was with him on that occasion.

Detectives didn't know it at the time, but Michael Lander put the refrigerator on Craigslist, and an unsuspecting buyer went to the Landers' home, at 4051 Longbranch Court, on Wednesday. Deputies tracked the appliance to the home of the buyer, who told investigators he'd paid $225 for the refrigerator he did not know was stolen, said Sgt. Donna Black of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. The buyer has not been charged with a crime.

Detectives went to the Landers' house, found the stolen stove, and arrested Michael Lander.

Investigators checked Craigs­list and found 35 appliances that Michael Lander had listed this month alone. He has been cooperating with authorities by showing them homes he remembers burglarizing, Black said.

Jennifer Lander is being held in Hernando County jail in lieu of $24,000 bail.

Michael Lander remains in jail in lieu of $40,000 bail.

The couple was evicted from a home on Durango Circle in Silver Ridge last March, records show. Jennifer Lander's massage therapy license expired last August.

The Landers are also shown as defendants in an auto loan delinquency case, according to Hernando County court records. The plaintiff is CitiFinancial Auto Corp.

The Sheriff's Office has been placing bright green stickers on vacant houses to warn potential thieves that some appliances are being outfitted with GPS devices.

The Sheriff's Office started the GPS program in September in conjunction with Hernando County Crime Stoppers, which supplied the warning stickers, Black said.

These arrests are the first from the program, Black said. She noted that the transponders placed on the appliances are "undetectable."

Now detectives are asking anyone who bought an appliance from the Landers to contact them.

"It is understood that the people who purchased the appliances are not involved in any crime and the buyer believed they were purchasing appliances from a legitimate seller," Black said in the release.

She stopped short of saying that buyers would be able to keep the stolen merchandise, but noted detectives "are not in the position to retrieve the appliances purchased." She also said that in many cases, the original owners of the stolen goods are being reimbursed by insurance companies.

Anyone who thinks they purchased one of these appliances is asked to contact Detective Ignacio Velez or Detective Mike Little at (352) 754-6830.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Tony Marrero can be reached at tmarrero@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1431.

My wife helped me steal appliances, Hernando man tells investigators 03/19/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 19, 2010 9:31pm]
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