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Safe cracking expert arrested after 23 burglaries & $16M in stolen jewelry

On the date listed above, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office in Florida announced that three men were arrested for committing 23 jewelry store burglaries in Florida over a span of 6 years, between 2011 – 2017. Michael Clarence Ornelas, 56, is the man in the featured image. He was described as one of the masterminds of the burglary crew that stole between $16 million to $18 million worth of jewelry. Those figures are retail dollar losses.

Ornelas utilized the assistance of two accomplices during the commission of the crimes. Those men were William Granims, 57 and Matthew Petruccelli, 67. Granims is a counter-surveillance specialist. He monitored police radios. Petruccelli is the owner of a thrift store in Florida. He served as the lookout.

In the 1990’s, Ornelas and Granims were partners in crime. They, along with John Mark Collins were responsible for 50 jewelry store burglaries in the southeast U.S. The Sheriff stated that about $10 million in jewelry was stolen in those crimes. The suspects served between 18 months and five years in prison for the burglaries.

In 2011, Ornelas, Granims, and Petruccelli started committing burglaries in Ocala, Gainesville, Port Charlotte, and Lakeland, FL. The men went on to commit more burglaries at jewelry stores in  Bradenton, Titusville, Nokomis, Crystal River, Bonita Springs, Melbourne, Venice, and Spring Hill, FL.

Investigators said the men would make entry to an adjacent building and drill pilot holes into the drywall. Once the men felt comfortable they could scout the safe and the alarm system, they would make entry into the jewelry store. They used a heavy-duty saw to cut open the safes and steal jewelry.

On May 19, 2018, the trio was arrested by FBI agents as they tried to burglarize a jewelry store in Glenview, IL.

In November 2019, they were charged for the burglaries in Citrus and Hernando Counties.

Watch the Hernando County Sheriff’s press conference below to learn more.

William Anthony Granims

William Anthony Granims

Mathew Petruccelli

Matthew Petruccelli