LEE COUNTY, Fla.-- More than $100,000 worth of appliances recovered from a theft ring bust were donated Tuesday to Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches.
The appliances, including washers, dryers, refrigerators and stoves, were recovered by Lee County Sheriff's Office detectives following the bust of a major appliance theft ring in February 2010. The bust led to the arrest of four men who were stealing the appliances from vacant homes and selling them through a business called Salguera's Appliances in Lehigh Acres.
Detectives were able to reunite some of the stolen appliances with their rightful owners. More than 50 of the remaining unclaimed appliances were donated to Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches and Habitat for Humanity.
"Once we get to a point where we can purge the evidence then we donate them to charity and that's what you're seeing here today," explained LCSO Forensic Unit Commander Rick Joslin while at the Sheriff's Office evidence facility on Intercom Drive Tuesday.
The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches (FSYR, Inc) was founded by the Florida Sheriffs Association in 1957. FSYR is a statewide network of care that has served thousands of Florida's needy and deserving children at six campuses throughout the state. The campus nearest Lee County is located in Sarasota/Bradenton.
"Our children, our ranchers-- there's about 181 of them at a time-- are there on a voluntary basis not at the expense of the state or the Sheriff's Office and they're there to improve their lives," said Graig Morrison, the Major Gifts Officer with FSYR.
Morrison emphasized the children will actually be the ones using the appliances. There are no cooks or custodial staff at the ranches, so kids are responsible for preparing meals and cleaning and maintaining the facilities.
"Our ranchers take care of their own cottages," said Morrison. "Our ranchers take care of the properties around the cottages our ranchers take care of the buildings and the vehicles."
More than 50 more appliances were donated to the Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store so they can be re0sold to raise money for future building projects.