St. Lucie County Sheriff’s investigators in the early morning hours of Feb. 17 arrested a Jupiter youth for stealing 9 rifles and two shotguns from a state wildlife officers’ building in Palm Beach County, according to Sheriff Ken J. Mascara.
“We have a long-established working relationship with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office,” Sheriff Mascara said, “and it paid off with the arrest of Brandon Esposito.”
Esposito, 17, who lives in Jupiter, was arrested at his uncle’s Port St. Lucie home where he had stashed the weapons, detectives said. The guns were stolen from a Palm Beach County compound of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Esposito knew they were stolen, according to Sheriff Mascara.
“At the uncle’s home, we recovered 15 weapons, and Esposito admitted they were all stolen,” said Sheriff Mascara. “We know 11 of the weapons were taken from the state wildlife officers’ compound in Palm Beach County.”
The Sheriff said it was important to recover the guns to prevent them from falling into the hands of criminals on the streets of St. Lucie County.
An undercover weapon purchase took place Friday night in Port St. Lucie, at the BP gas station at Gatlin and Savage Boulevard. After the money changed hands, detectives followed Esposito to the Notre Dame Avenue home of Esposito’s uncle, about 2 miles from the gas station.
The youth admitted the weapons were stolen and showed the detectives a wooden box under a bed that contained the stolen guns. “The uncle didn’t know his nephew had hidden the weapons in the his home,” said Sheriff Mascara. “He was fully cooperative.”
Detectives charged Esposito with 11 counts of grand theft of firearms, four counts of dealing in stolen property and 2 counts of possession of firearms with altered serial numbers. He was taken to the St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Fort Pierce, a facility operated by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.