ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – St. Petersburg Police Department detectives say a man burglarized several homes while the homes were being treated for bugs.
Police say over the last five weeks, 36-year-old David Cooper broke into 12 homes while they were tented for termites.
One of the victims, AJ Lambden, said his laptop, tablet and jewelry were taken.
His unit was fumigated in early June. Lambden said when he and his girlfriend returned home, items were missing.
“Realized that our back bedroom had basically been turned over, all of our stuff was just rummaged through,” Lambden said. “That’s when we realized they had stolen quite a few things from us.”
Lambden’s watch was also taken, but not recovered.
“Vintage watch, it was passed down from my grandfather to my father and then just handed down to me just recently because I hadn’t seen my father for 24 years,” he said.
Investigators recovered rifles, a handgun, ammunition, electronics, jewelry, shoes and cash that they say Cooper stole from the homes he broke into.
“It started in the middle of May and then some other detectives started to get certain cases with certain MO’s,” said Detective Brett McKean with the St. Petersburg Police Department.
Investigators said Cooper had experience working with pest control companies. He’d sneak into the homes at night when the chemicals weren’t toxic.
“So while working for these companies, he knew what it took to fumigate the house and the type of chemicals that were in,” McKean said. “He was able to go up to the houses, undo the clamps, slit the tent with a knife and crawl inside.”
When detectives arrested him, Cooper had a handgun in his possession and had an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Hillsborough County for driving with a suspended or revoked license.
Cooper faces a total of 15 charges, including residential burglary, armed residential burglary, dealing in stolen property, and felon in possession of a firearm.
He remains in the Pinellas County jail.
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