The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office conducted a recent sting of unlicensed contractors that netted 35 arrests and 65 charges, with the potential for more, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.
“Operation Cast Out” was conducted in a vacant storefront on Madeira Beach from Saturday through Monday. According to the release, undercover detectives met with people who advertised on various social media sites such as Facebook, Craigslist and NextDoor. Detectives said all the arrested suspects offered to perform illegal, unlicensed specialty contracting work on the storefront including electrical, painting, drywall and tiling, without licenses and without pulling permits.
The Sheriff’s Office said the results of the sting highlight an ongoing issue in the county. It said more than 240 charges have been filed against 110 people since its first undercover sting in August 2017.
“It's really not hard. We're setting up these undercover operations and we make the phone calls and they come,” Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said. “It really is too easy. When we start seeing the numbers go down and we start seeing people show up who are licensed, then we'll know we are making a difference and we've made an impact in this."
Licensing in Pinellas County has been fraught with controversy. On July 1, the 45-year-old independent Pinellas County Construction Licensing board was dissolved after years of mishandling and licensing power was passed to the county.
Residents can search for licensed contractors at the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board website. Violations of unlicensed contracting can be reported to the Sheriff’s Office.
Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at [email protected] Follow @danuscripts.