NAPLES — Catching a thief red-handed doesn’t happen often.
Naples police did just that Tuesday, after officers say a Golden Gate Estates man was caught in the act of trying to sell stolen electrical motors to a local scrap yard.
Ernesto Saul Montano Jerez, 43, of the 100 block of 39th Street S.W., Golden Gate Estates, was arrested by Naples police outside of Garden Street Iron and Metal, 6101 Shirley St., North Naples.
Montano Jerez was charged with dealing in stolen property and grand theft between $300 to $5,000 following an investigation into the theft of 6,129 pounds of scrap electric motors valued at $1,800 from Naples Armature Works in January and February.
Naples Armature Works shop manager Robert Weissenborn Jr., said he contacted police to report the thefts after discovering that someone had broken into the scrap storage container at the business multiple times.
“The guy was stealing it (scrap motors) every week for like a month,” Weissenborn said Wednesday.
Investigators searched the databases of several area scrap yards in an effort to locate the culprit, and Garden Street Iron and Metal’s turned up Montano Jerez as someone who had been bringing in large quantities of electric motors.
Naples detective Robert Young learned that Montano Jerez had visited Naples Armature Works in 2009, after an employee said he recognized the picture of Montano Jerez that police showed him. At that time, the employee said that Montano Jerez asked about the motors in the storage container.
Reports said the employee told Montano Jerez that the motors weren’t junk and that no one had permission to remove them.
When Young and Weissenborn arrived at Garden Street Iron and Metal on Tuesday, they found Montano Jerez unloading more than 1,000 pounds of stolen electric motors.
“I was actually shocked, that we were able to catch him in the act,” Weissenborn said. “It was indescribable, to pull up and actually see him doing that.”
Montano Jerez was arrested and transported to the Collier County jail in Naples.
“I am very impressed with the profession efficiency that Detective Robert Young used in apprehending this criminal,” Weissenborn said.