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Two broke into Palm Harbor homes, then sold loot at New Year's parties, Pinellas deputies say

PALM HARBOR — Two people broke into homes and then tried to sell the electronics, jewelry and handbags they had just taken to New Year's Eve party guests, authorities said.

The burglaries happened between midnight and 6 a.m. on New Year's Day in the Lansbrook subdivision, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

Deputies arrested Robert Stavrakis, 23, of Palm Harbor and Beth Smith, 22, of Holiday. Both were charged with three counts of armed burglary, one count of attempted armed burglary and dealing in stolen property.

In two instances, arrest reports show, the pair broke into houses that were occupied and fled after being confronted.

In one, they used a pocketknife to slice a screen to get into the pool cage. Then, they found a window that was partly open and cut that screen in order to crank it open all the way and get inside. The two took an iPad, several digital cameras and a PlayStation, the arrest report shows.

But five people were asleep upstairs in the home and some were awakened by a barking dog. The owner armed himself with a stick, but saw the robbers run away, the report shows.

Later that night, the two "crashed New Year's Eve parties in the area and attempted to sell or in some instances successfully sold stolen items to the partygoers," a statement from the Sheriff's Office said.

Some of the residents didn't know they had been burglarized until they returned home.

After residents began reporting the crimes, deputies already in the area spotted a car that raised their suspicions. After finding evidence, including burglary tools, inside the car, deputies arrested the two.

An arrest report shows that deputies found a pocketknife and socks the two had used as gloves.

Two broke into Palm Harbor homes, then sold loot at New Year's parties, Pinellas deputies say 01/02/11 [Last modified: Sunday, January 2, 2011 11:06pm]
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