“Simms was among dozens of suspects lured to the Cooper City home and taken into custody Wednesday and Thursday during a multiagency operation targeting unlicensed contractors. Of the more than 30 suspects arrested over two days, 14 were released and given notices to appear in court. Additionally, dozens of criminal traffic citations and civil citations were issued.
“We’ve brought these individuals here because they have a history of noncompliance or citation, in many cases an extensive history,” said Belyeu, a detective with the sheriff’s economic crimes unit. “That’s why we’ve isolated them as a problem to the consumer as well as the industry.”
Curbing illegal home improvements, officials say, has been an elusive goal in South Florida amid the downturn in the economy: Unemployed workers contract without a license as an easy way to make money. And some homeowners turn a blind eye to the unlicensed work for bargain prices.
Homeowners who don’t scrutinize whether someone is licensed may inadvertently invite a criminal inside their home, officials say.
“The latest trend that we’ve noticed is that about 60 percent of the respondents to our operations have extensive criminal histories that include felonies,” Belyeu said. “Everything from sexual abuse to aggravated battery. We’ve even had a murderer show up at one of our things.”
Ensure that all companies hold proper licenses. Be Sure.
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