A crumpled water bottle cracked the case.
The accused burglar’s thirst may be the root of his legal woes. DNA from a discarded water bottle found at the scene of a multimillion-dollar jewelry store heist in Tampa, FL in 2019 has been recently linked to a burglary at the Hollywood home of celebrities Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.
Marcelo A. Romero, 34, was arrested by Tampa Police in California in March after his DNA was found at the theft of $3 million worth of gold and jewelry from Marcelo’s Fine Jewelry in Tampa, Florida.
Like a scene from a movie, investigators allege that the burglars cut the power to the jewelry store to disable the alarm and pry open the front door. The culprits then cut through another metal door to gain access to a room with four large safes inside; police also say they used an acetylene torch to cut a safe open and took off with all the gold and jewelry inside.
Related > Experienced Theft Defense
About the Burglary Investigation
During the investigation by Tampa Police, detectives found several used water bottles on the store’s counter. Employees claimed that the bottles weren’t there when they closed up the night before. One of these crushed water bottles processed by crime scene investigators (CSI) became the critical evidence leading to the recent theft arrest.
Authorities ran the DNA and the results from the water bottle came back as a match to another case from February 2019 in Los Angeles. The LAPD were openly investigating a break-in of the home of Hollywood actors Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. The match was made to a burglary tool found at the scene of the burglary.
The DNA match from the discarded water bottle and tool meant law enforcement could connect the crimes. Yet, neither the Los Angeles nor Tampa Police Departments had a name to go with the DNA match. That is until October 2019 when, Romero was arrested in Ventura County, CA for another burglary. He was also charged with conspiracy, resisting arrest, obstructing or delaying a peace officer and possession of stolen goods.
Cross-Country Police Cooperation
Following Romero’s arrest by the Ventura County, California Sheriff’s Office for residential burglary, law enforcement had more to go on. During a search of the accused apartment, the sheriff’s detectives found stolen items from multiple local burglaries in Ventura County…and an acetylene torch.
This link to the Tampa, FL jewelry store robbery, caught the attention of the coordinated efforts of Tampa and Los Angeles Police Detectives. This allowed them to get a search warrant to obtain a DNA swab from Romero. In early 2019, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement revealed that — the DNA was a match to Romero.
The DNA test compared the swab and discarded water bottle revealed the DNA was 700 billion times more likely to belong to Romero than anyone else.
The LAPD police detectives received the news as well from their local DNA testing of the burglary tool from Kurt Russell’s home. Now law enforcement agencies across the country are reviewing the DNA of unsolved burglaries to see if there’s a link to him.
Romero is being presently being held in the Ventura County Jail on a $1.1 million dollar bond. He also faces charges locally in Tampa for burglary and grand theft of $100,000 or more.
Theft Crimes Defense Attorney in Tampa
If you or someone close to you is under investigation for a theft crime, you may be worried about the consequences. Rightly so. Penalties for theft crimes vary based on the type of crime and the value of the items involved. When large sums of money or property – like jewelry – are involved, jail is a real possibility.