SUN CITY CENTER, Fla. — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has arrested 16 and has charges pending for 6 additional individuals in Operation Retrofit, an investigation targeting unlicensed contractors in the Bay Area.
Investigators used a residential home on loan to the Sheriff's Office in Sun City Center to catch unlicensed contractors preying on the elderly community.
During the 9 day sting from October 10 to October 19, 2018, detectives responded to ads from known or suspected unlicensed contractors and posed as homeowners seeking estimates on a variety of jobs. The unlicensed contractors broke the law and provided quotes without proper licensing, according to the Sheriff's Office.
"One of these suspects traveled to our area specifically to target the elderly of Hillsborough County. It's despicable and we won't tolerate it. Shoddy work puts people's safety at risk. The consequences of poor construction or electrical work could be deadly," said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister.
The 16 arrests included a fugitive, a suspect in possession of drugs, a registered sex offender and a repeat offender.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is telling residents to be cautious. Lookout for the following red flags when hiring a contractor:
- Door-to-Door sales or internet offers for home improvement which seems to offer unrealistic savings
- Contractors who ask for large amounts of money up front, especially cash
- Contractors who ask the homeowner to obtain their own permits
- Contractors who claim work can be done without permits
- Contractors who will not show you their contractor's license and insurance documents