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Theft victims keep on hoping
Two men search for stolen tools among items recovered in a sting by Hillsborough deputies.
By RODNEY THRASH, Times Staff Writer
Published December 9, 2007
TAMPA - The headline in the morning newspaper gave Jerry Morris and Frank Ferrer a glimmer of hope.
Theft victims may get stuff returned
It was the first piece of positive news they'd received in months. Back in July, somebody - maybe multiple somebodies - broke into Ferrer's business and robbed the place.
"Shut us down for a week," he said.
Morris, his employee, has not worked since.
There were no guarantees Ferrer's and Morris' tools would be among the items Hillsborough sheriff's recovered during a yearlong sting operation in Seffner. Sheriff's deputies set up a pawn shop in hopes of taking illegal firearms off the street. They netted more than $2-million in stolen property.
Ferrer and Morris decided to try their luck. Their livelihood depended on it.
They drove from Town 'N Country to the sheriff's facility on N. Falkenburg Road. The Sheriff's Office held a public viewing there from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday. Inside, a bevy of speakers, CD players, flat-screen televisions, DVD players, sparkling rims and iPods filled every corner of the complex.
Plain clothes deputies asked Ferrer and Morris for descriptions of their missing property, serial numbers, anything that would prove ownership.
They rattled off the list of items as best as they could. To understand Ferrer, you've got to understand the importance of his tools.
"That's like race cars to a race driver," he said. "You got to have them. It identifies who you are, how you work."
Ferrer used them to rebuild and rig boats, to make a life for himself, to leave a legacy for his son. Four years ago, he opened Nautical Marine on Hillsborough Avenue, near the Veterans Expressway. It was always his dream to be an entrepreneur.
Sheriff's officials checked their inventory. They came back outside and broke the news to Ferrer and Morris. No luck.
Ferrer and Morris walked away, heads hung low. Another day, another disappointment.