PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Two people are facing felony charges after stealing brand-new appliances from real estate properties all over Palm Beach County and then trying to sell them for a profit, deputies said.
“How could you do this to us? It’s finally on the market, and we want to get it sold,” Beth Wigder with Rebuild Properties said.
Wigder is talking about one of the real estate properties she recently renovated just south of downtown West Palm Beach.
Last week, she found out the newly-renovated space was missing its brand-new refrigerator and stove.
“Evidently they broke into the side door and they just used a screwdriver, because the bolt wasn’t done all the way, and just popped it open,” Wigder said.
It happened at another vacant home in Loxahatchee last week as well. Someone stole all of the kitchen appliances and the washer and dryer, according to the real estate agent.
“I couldn’t believe it. I thought, maybe with work being done, they moved it out of the way because they were reconfiguring the kitchen,” Kim Spadavecchia with Florida’s Best Reality said. “I called my broker, Marshall, and said, ‘Hey, where are the appliances?’ And that’s when we realized it was all stolen.”
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office arrested two suspects, Carlos Castillo and George Bermudez, last week.
Court documents tie them to several recent grand theft cases, including Spadavecchia and Wigder’s cases.
Bermudez is facing grand theft and dealing in stolen property charges. Castillo is facing dealing in stolen property and burglary charges.
According to the documents, after stealing the goods, the suspects attempted to sell them to small appliance stores to make a profit.
“I think it’s awful,” Spadavecchia said. “It really is horrible because people are spending a lot of money to invest in properties and flip them and here they are stealing.”
“It is definitely a cause of concern that it’s happening more and more frequently,” Joey Duhon told Contact 5.
Duhon, who works for Drone Homes, records video of homes on the market across South Florida.
He told Contact 5 that one way for real estate professionals to keep this from happening is to consider virtual staging.
“What’s really nice about technology these days is you can virtually stage anything. So, from a microwave to a hood or a gas stove to dishwashers and dryers to furniture,” Duhon said. “It’s a lot less expensive than getting your stuff stolen from you too.”
Thankfully, Spadavecchia said they got all of their kitchen appliances back. However, the washer and dryer are still missing.
Wigder said her team got both the refrigerator and stove back.
However, the hassle and stress that this crime spree caused is the last thing they expected to be dealing with just days before Christmas.
“We’re gonna do trackers on all the appliances from now on and try not to put them in until we’re ready to put them right on the market, even though we did that here,” Wigder said. “It just seems like two weeks was too much for the appliances to be in here, and God knows who was coming in and out of these houses.”
Spadavecchia told Contact 5 they are now considering installing cameras at all of their vacant properties.