'Unclaimed Property’ Sting Nets 76 Arrests, 2 Awards

"Operation Lion's Den” aimed to attract 6,000 wanted individuals with the promise of unclaimed property and money. As a result, 76 arrests spelled success and netted recognition for two employees of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.


How to catch a thief? Or any one of the more than 6,000 indivduals wanted by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office?

Answering that question was the mission of last year's "Operation Lion's Den," which for Detective Louis Cagnina and Master Deputy Jesse Collins earned them recognition for "distinguished performance" from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

The men were "tasked with creating a large-scale warrant round-up based upon a fictitious promise of unclaimed property," said Col. James Previtera, in reading his prepared remarks at the sheriff's office's awards ceremony for the second quarter of 2012, held June 13 at the Jail Assembly Room on North Falkenburg Road in Greater Brandon.

"This round-up was designed to target over 6,000 persons with active arrest warrants and outdated or non-existent addresses," Previtera said.

Cagnina and Collins, he added, "had to establish an up-to-date address, coordinate a large-scale mail-out, create the illusion of a legitimate company attempting to return unclaimed property [and/or] money and lure the individuals in for 'the prize.' "

The operation required "a great deal of planning and coordination utilizing internal and external resources," Previtera said.

And when it was show time, Operation Lion's Den "opened for business" on Aug. 3, 2011.

"Throughout the day people arrived expecting to receive their unclaimed property only to find themselves being taken into custody for outstanding charges," Previtera said.

The net result?

"Seventy-six wanted individuals were arrested and transported to jail," the colonel said. 


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