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Police: Suspected Burglar Targeted Tented Homes Under Fumigation

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HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) -- Hollywood Police have arrested a man who they said burglarized homes while they were being fumigated and covered with a tent during the early morning hours.

Derek Lavon Bell
Derek Lavon Bell, 38, was arrested in connection to a series of home burglaries in Hollywood. (Source: Broward Sheriff's Office)

Derek Lavon Bell, 38, was arrested in connection to several home burglaries.

"It's like somebody personally took something out of my hand. Silverware from my great-grandmother, that was up on the hutch, and he just ripped it off," said victim Frances Palacio. "Went in my closet, took my box that had my .45 records in it. Ya know, don't take Elvis away from me."

Bell allegedly risked his own health to get into the unoccupied homes.

"He would look for these homes that were tented, cut a slit in them, and pretty much have his day inside, because no one was ever there," said Miranda Grossman with Hollywood Police.

Jewelry, watches, purses, coin collections, Barbie dolls, baseball cards, guns and ammunition were just some of the items taken from the numerous victims' residences.

"After seeing a pattern of the homes being burglarized and broken into, officers put together an operation and that's how we successfully arrested Derek Bell," said Grossman added. "One of our officers was watching this home on Lincoln Street that was being tented and that's when the officer saw the suspect come out of the home with a bag. They followed him to his own home in Miramar and the search turned up all of this."

Detectives recovered more than $300,000 worth of stolen property stashed in Bell's Miramar home, as well as inside a separate storage unit, authorities said.

23 victims had their belongings recovered and returned. Three were from Pembroke Pines, three from Miramar, and one was from Ft. Lauderdale.

Bell had two active warrants in Broward and has a history of arrests for robbery and burglary. He was also on probation for a suspended driver's license, according to police.

Palacio also got back most of her stuff, including her Elvis records.

Anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of these burglaries to contact the Hollywood Police Department at (954) 967-4636.

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