- Name: YOANDRY LEIVA
- Charge: BURGLARY - UNOCCUPIED DWELLING UNARMED, GRAND THEFT - $300 - $5000, MARIJUANA-MFG SCHEDULE 1
- Residence: Naples, FL
- Age: 21
- Occupation: DETAILER
- Case #: Not yet available
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This gallery is compiled by the Naples Daily News staff from written reports by Naples police, Collier Sheriff‘s Office, Marco police and other agencies. Arrests indicate suspicion of crime, not guilt. To report a crime or suspicious activity in your neighborhood, call the Naples Police and Fire Department at 213-4844, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office at 774-4434 or the Marco Island Police Department at 389-5050.
Earlier this month, Emanoel Thermitus packed up her family's things, paid her new landlord and moved into a rental house in Golden Gate Estates.
With three young sons, Thermitus was looking to get out of a town house community where she said children as young as 12 and 13 often were arrested for drugs.
"I got scared," she said. "I didn't want my kids to go through that, you know? Let me do whatever I can to get them out of there."
But about a week after the family of four moved into the three-bedroom house on Third Avenue Northwest, a Collier County sheriff's deputy called and told her she'd have to move out. Her landlord, 21-year-old Yoandry Leiva, didn't actually own the house and had no authority to rent it out, he said.
Deputies arrested Leiva, of the 8600 block of Wheat Lane, East Naples, on Thursday, charging him with three counts of burglary, one count of grand theft and one count of manufacturing marijuana. He also is a suspect in the fraudulent rental of a house at 5921 Green Blvd., where a marijuana plant and a stolen Yamaha motorcycle were found in the backyard.
The house on Third Avenue Northwest actually belongs to Steven and Janet Sparker, a couple who had filed a motion of continuance on the property after the bank began a foreclosure process about two years ago.
The Sparkers called authorities after they noticed last weekend that the locks had been changed and a family was living in their home.
"I feel so bad for this woman that (Leiva) took her money and she's spent all her money and she's got nowhere to go, and at the same time, I can't help," said Steven Sparker, who now lives with his wife in East Naples.
"I just feel very violated having someone living there on your property uninvited," Janet Sparker said. "I'm not responsible for her financial situation; I have my own to worry about."
Detectives moved quickly on the case, Steven Sparker said, keeping the couple informed about the case and locating a suspect within the week.
Sheriff's Office investigators say there are typically two types of rental scams. In the first, a scammer pretending to be a landlord asks a prospective renter to wire money to an account to get the keys. In the second, someone changes out the locks on a vacant home and leases it to an unsuspecting renter.
Either way, the renter is out hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Lt. Chad Parker, who works financial crimes at the Sheriff's Office, said the agency had only recently begun to see the second type. In those cases, renters must leave the property even if they've paid rent to someone because they are legally considered to be trespassing.
"It's unfortunate because they have to get kicked out of a house," Parker said. "They're being victimized twice."
Out $3,000 and with no leftover savings, Thermitus said she and her sons now stay at a public park until 10 o'clock every night, when they have to look somewhere else for a place to sleep.
"I spent all the money I had," she said. "I don't know how, but I know if I pray, God will listen and I will be safe, but I don't feel safe alone with the kids."
Avoiding rental scams
To avoid falling victim to rental scams:
■ Never wire money to someone you don’t know.
■ Never provide someone with sensitive information like your bank account number or Social Security number.
■ Avoid transactions involving individuals based in countries known for scamming, such as Nigeria or Malaysia.
■ Never rent a home or condo without seeing the interior first.
■ Do not submit to a background check for a home without meeting the owner in person.
Source: Collier County Sheriff’s Office