POLK CITY – A lot of things get stolen all the time – money, cars, household items, even someone’s personal identification.
This week, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office caught two men responsible for stealing something far more unique: cows.
The sheriff’s office’s agriculture detectives just found out who was responsible for stealing cows in December from a pasture in Polk City. If that sounds like a rare and unique crime, it’s not, particularly in a county where agriculture is still big business.
“We take cattle rustling very seriously in Polk County,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “Our Ag crimes detectives did an outstanding job running down leads and bringing these two men to justice. These thieves are now in jail, where they belong.”
The case started on Dec. 12, when the owner of the cattle, Ed Harvey Davis of Braddock Road in Auburndale, reported a number of Hereford cattle were missing from his pasture, which was located near the intersection of Mount Olive Road and Berkley Road, near Polk City.
The sheriff’s office sent out a Crime Stoppers bulletin requesting information about this case. But as it turns out, it was a motor vehicle violation — and a red light camera — that helped the sheriff’s office track down the two suspects.
Seven days later, Polk County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Sgt. Tim Glover was on duty when he handled a red light camera violation that happened on U.S. 27 and Holly Hill Road in Haines City. He decided to forward the images caught on the camera to PCSO agriculture deputies. The red light camera had captured a white 1989 Dodge pick-up truck pulling a Gooseneck livestock trailer. The tag on the truck was registered to Andres Trujillo, 37, of 914 E. Paris St. in Tampa.
However, the tag on the trailer was registered to Orlando Perez of Tampa — and it had been stolen from him. Stephanie Mier, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, said it was determined that Perez had nothing to do with this crime.
“Mr. Perez is an innocent victim whose license plate was stolen by Trujillo,” she said.
Agriculture detectives noticed from the camera images that the trailer was carrying cattle with colors and markings of the Hereford breed. It was determined the suspect was traveling toward the southern livestock markets.
At the same time, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office was investigating a theft of cattle with the exact same description of the suspect truck and trailer. PCSO detectives contacted the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and learned that a second man, Yoinel DeVera-Gutierrez, 29, of 388 E. 55th St. in Haileah, had sold stolen cattle there, in a case being investigated by Pasco County detectives.
Polk agriculture detectives contacted the Okeechobee Livestock Market Auction and retrieved a video that showed seven cows were sold at the auction on Dec. 12 under the name of Yoinel DeVera. The seven cows brought in a price of $3,798.21. The video was taken to Davis, who reviewed the images of the cattle sold at that auction and positively identified them as being his property.
“Both suspects, Yoinel DeVera-Gutierrez and Andres Trujillo, were also identified in a bank video surveillance camera cashing the check after the sale,” Mier noted.
Trujillo was arrested on Dec. 19 on an outstanding warrant for violation of probation. He was on probation for an earlier charge of grand theft of livestock.
“This was a previous case where he also stole livestock in Tampa,” Mier noted.
He had been in the Hillsborough County Jail from Dec. 19-27. Trujillo was released and re-instated on Community Control pending a court hearing that had been scheduled for Feb. 15 in Marion County.
At 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 31, he was arrested in the lobby of the Hillsborough County Probation and Parole Office.
“The Tampa Police Department was contacted by Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Trujillo was arrested for an outstanding warrant for the Polk County cattle thefts,” Mier noted.
Yoinel DeVera-Guiterrez was found on Wednesday, Feb. 1, in Columbia County and was arrested on a warrant for cattle theft.
Both Trujillo and DeVera-Guiterrez are currently being charged with grand theft of livestock and dealing in stolen property.
“This investigation is on-going and additional charges are expected,” she said.
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