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Four youths arrested in sting

The teen-age burglars may have thought they were making a fast buck by unloading guns, televisions and other stolen goods at Even Steven's Second Hand Store.

Little did they know they were selling their take to undercover deputies from the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Early Tuesday morning, deputies executed search warrants on four residences in west Ocala and arrested four juveniles, said sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Robert Douglas.

One of those arrested, a 15-year-old, was sleeping with a 9mm pistol under his pillow, Douglas said. Authorities were searching for five more juvenile suspects Tuesday afternoon.

The arrests stemmed from a storefront sting operation run between June and November of last year. The fake store, in the 6800 block of State Road 40, was equipped with hidden video cameras to record faces and license tags of customers.

"It was set up to try to get people dealing in stolen property and burglary off the street," Douglas said.

Authorities traced the serial numbers of guns, televisions, microwave ovens and other goods purchased to see if they were stolen. The investigation focused on repeat customers who came to the store often, Douglas said.

In all, the operation recovered between $5,000 and $10,000 in stolen property, Douglas said. He didn't have a figure for the cost of the operation, a cooperative effort with the Ocala Police Department.

The searches of the residences Tuesday morning netted more televisions and guns and some crack cocaine, he said.

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