A man accused of stealing more than $3 million worth of gold and jewelry from a Tampa store was arrested thousands of miles away in California.
Back on April 27 of 2019, the manager of Marcelo's Fine Jewelry closed his store, locking the doors and activating his alarm. Tampa Police say later that evening, an unknown suspect(s) turned the power off and pried open the front door, cut through a metal door and gained access to a room with four large safes.
The suspect then allegedly used a torch cutting instrument to cut and pry open one safe, stealing gold and jewelry totaling over $3 million.
However, investigators found several used water bottles inside the stores on the counters. Employees said those bottles were not there when the store was closed. Crime scene technicians analyzed one crushed water bottle found at the scene, which they say became critical evidence in the case.
The DNA results on that water bottle came back as a match from a case in Los Angeles from a few months earlier. That case involved a high profile celebrity residential burglary case where jewelry was also stolen.
In the LAPD case, a burglary tool was entered as evidence and DNA was retrieved. The DNA from the burglary tool matched the DNA from the crushed water bottle, but there was no name attached yet.
Months later, on October 3, 2019, Marcelo Romero was arrested by Ventura County Sheriff's Office for Residential Burglary, Conspiracy to Commit a Crime, Resisting, Obstructing or Delaying a Peace Officer, and Possession of Stolen Property.
Via a search warrant of Romero's apartment, stolen items from residential burglaries within Ventura County were found, along with an acetylene torch that authorities say could be used as a tool to cut open safes.
A DNA swab was obtained from Romero, and in January of 2020 that DNA was matched to the water bottle in Tampa. Evidence showed the DNA was 700 billion times more likely to be from Marcelo Romero than from any other unrelated individual.
Detectives from agencies across the nation and internationally are reviewing unsolved burglaries to see if Romero is tied to any other ones.
As for the Tampa burglary, there is still an investigation into any possible suspects that may have been involved int he crime.
Romero is currently in the Ventura County Jail in California on $1.1 million bond and faces charges in Tampa for Burglary of an Unoccupied Structure and Grand Theft of $100,000 or more.
It is unclear at this time whether any of the gold/jewelry from the Tampa store have been recovered.
It is also worth noting that the suspect (named Marcelo) is of no relation to Marcelo's Fine Jewelry.