Sunday, May 20, 2018
Public safety

Pasco deputies continue undercover stings of pawn shops

NEW PORT RICHEY — The Pasco County Sheriff's Office, on a quest to stop pawn shops from buying stolen goods, has arrested another pawn shop owner.

Andrew Yasparro, 31, owner of Pasco Jewelry and Pawn at 6219 U.S. 19, was arrested Monday after he paid undercover detectives $400 for jewelry he was told was stolen, the Sheriff's Office says. Four other pawn shop workers were arrested two weeks ago in a similar undercover sting operation.

Sgt. Larry Engle said all pawn shops in the county should prepare for an undercover visit.

"We're going to be going to all pawn shops eventually," he said.

Although what happens in pawn shops might seem far removed from most citizens' lives, Engle said it isn't. Criminals, many with drug addictions to feed, break into homes, cars and stores to find things to steal and then sell at pawn shops.

"They are doing it for the quick dollar to feed their habit," said Detective Eric Pfenninger.

As long as there is a way for people to sell stolen goods quickly, criminals will keep stealing from citizens and continue relying on it as an underworld career, Engle said.

"As long as they have an outlet for this stuff, we aren't going to be able to get ahead of the curve," Engle said.

Engle and Pfenninger said there are many honest pawn shops in Pasco that buy items through the proper methods.

Yasparro's store isn't like that, they said: The walls are full of new items still in their boxes: computers, iPads, Keurig coffee makers, Dyson vacuum cleaners, Crest White Strips, electric toothbrushes, power tools. Engle said authorities think these items were stolen from area stores.

Yasparro, of New Port Richey, was charged with dealing in stolen property and released from the Pasco jail Tuesday on $10,000 bail. When reached by phone Wednesday, Yasparro said he did not want to comment on the allegations without speaking first with his attorney.

Engle said he doesn't go into these undercover investigations hoping for arrests.

"We are hoping these guys will turn us away and do the right thing," Engle said.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.

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