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If it wasn't for a crumpled up water bottle left behind inside a Florida jewelry store by an apparently thirsty suspect, police may have never linked a man to an alleged multimillion dollar heist at a Florida jewelry store alongside another high-profile alleged burglary at a Hollywood power couple's home.
The manager of Marcelo's Fine Jewelry in Tampa unassumingly closed up shop, locked his doors and activated the store’s alarm system on the evening of Apr. 27.
“Later that evening, unknown suspect(s) turned the power off to the business and pried open the front door to get inside, where they then cut through a metal door to gain access to a room with four large safes,” the Tampa Police Department said in a press release obtained by Oxygen.com. “The suspect(s) then used a torch cutting instrument to cut and pry open one safe in the room, and stole gold and jewelry totaling over $3,000,000.”
When officers investigated the scene, they discovered several used water bottles on the store counters. Employees told investigators that the bottles weren’t there when the store closed. One of the water bottles, a crushed up one, was processed by a crime scene technician for DNA.
The DNA results matched a Feb. 2019 “high profile celebrity residential burglary case where jewelry was also stolen” police said in their press release. That burglary occurred at Los Angeles property owned by actors Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell in Feb. 2019, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
During that burglary, “a burglary tool was entered as evidence and DNA was retrieved.”
The DNA from the burglary tool used at Hawn and Russell's home matched the DNA from the crushed up water bottle, according to police, but there was no name yet attached to it.
But months later on Oct. 3, Marcelo Romero, 33, was arrested in Ventura County, California in connection with a burglary in that area. He was charged with residential burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of stolen property and other charges, police said. When Ventura County searched his home, they allegedly found “stolen items from residential burglaries within their jurisdiction.”
Additionally, they also “found an acetylene torch consistent with being a tool used to cut open safes,” authorities continued.
Romero was swabbed for DNA during his arrest and in January, his DNA results came back and investigators now say they believe he matches the alleged culprit behind both the heist and the celebrity burglary.
“The DNA comparison between Romero's DNA swab and the DNA recovered from the water bottle in Tampa showed the DNA was 700 billion times more likely to be from Marcelo Romero than from any other unrelated individual,” the Tampa Police wrote in their press release on Wednesday.
Romero is currently being held in Ventura County Jail on a $1.1 million dollar bond. He also faces charges in Tampa for Burglary of an Unoccupied Structure and Grand Theft of $100,000 or more. It’s unclear what he might be charged with in connection with the Los Angeles incident.
Investigators alleged it's possible he could he be tied to even more burglaries. Police in Tampa said that “detectives from agencies across the nation, and internationally, are reviewing unsolved burglaries to determine if Romero was involved.”
It's not clear if Romero has an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
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