Law enforcement officers generate dozens of reports and public records each day. Some are electronic while others are still on paper. Cataloging and analyzing this information is the focus of one person at the Gulfport Police Department and, at times, this process includes a pattern that only she sees.
“Her diligence broke the case wide open!” according to an official announcement on the department’s Facebook page on afternoon of Wednesday, January 31.
Margaret Palmisano “recently discovered a series of burglaries to residential sheds containing primarily tools and lawn equipment,” according to police records. By cross-referencing police and pawnshop records, she found a “matching description in four out of the five cases.”
On January 30, when she contacted pawnshop employees, police records show they told her, “the person pawning the items currently at the shop.”
Palmisano quickly alerted local detectives who then investigated. And, based on the location of the Cash America pawnshop, they requested assistance from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, police records show.
At the pawnshop, law enforcement officers found that the stolen property was being transported in a stolen vehicle that had a stolen tag.
According to police records, the driver tried to flee on foot.
Police Detective Sergeant Thomas Woodman and a sheriff’s deputy gave chase to Charles Whitton, a transient, who was caught and then charged with four counts of burglary to a structure, grand theft auto, felony theft, resisting law enforcement officers without violence and violation of parole.
Court records detail that Whitton picked up Theodore Estlow, a transient, at the Salvation Army Family Store & Donation Center, 5321 4th Street N., and brought him to a location at railroad tracks near 3300 28th Street N., where multiple items were “stashed in tall weeds and then loaded into a vehicle.” Estlow was then taken by Whitton to various pawnshops to conduct transactions and receive funds. Items were pawned within one to two days after multiple burglaries in Gulfport occurred from January 20 to January 26.
Estlow was also arrested and charged with five counts of false verification of ownership of property.
Both men are in jail awaiting trial. Etslow’s bond is $25,000 and Whitton’s is $22,150.