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Lehigh Acres man charged after string of water system thefts in Lee County

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Posted at 8:26 AM, Mar 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-13 08:26:31-05

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — A Lehigh Acres man has been charged with grand theft and burglary after allegedly stealing water systems in the East District.

Lee County Sheriff’s Office says they were notified of a residential burglary where several kitchen appliances were removed from a business on March 11th.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office Construction-Special Investigations Detective and East Criminal Investigations Division Detective were assigned to the case and began investigating.

The burglary victim told detectives that there was a GPS tracker installed in one of the stolen appliances.

The tracker led them to the area of 19th Street West in Lehigh Acres.

The Sheriff’s Office located Elvis Fonseca Lara, 34, at a home where the location device was pinging from.

While their Detectives discovered 20 water systems, including ones from the burglary on March 11th, inside of the garage.

They also located numerous new construction materials in the backyard.

These items matched the description of stolen appliances from a string of six thefts beginning on January 19, 2021.

A search warrant was executed on the residence, and detectives were able to locate the following items:

  • 22 water system pressure tanks
  • 16 water system salt tanks
  • 27 water system softeners
  • 3 water system aerators
  • 22 buckets of paint
  • 1 refrigerator
  • 1 kitchen stove
  • Kitchen cabinets

Lara admitted to deputies the equipment in his possession belonged to him.

Lara was charged with six counts of grand theft, two counts of unoccupied burglary, and one count of unoccupied burglary to a structure.

Since November 3rd there have been 20 water system thefts in the East district.

Lara may face additional charges as new leads surface.