Two Florida anglers who lost tens of thousands of dollars in fly shop inventory are now back in the hunt for a new business location after recovering most of their pilfered merchandise.

In early January, thieves robbed a storage unit belonging to St. Augustine residents Luke Blaser and James Canelos. Items included rods, reels, clothing and fishing apparel, with an estimated value of $80,000. The belongings were recovered less than a week later — less than a few feet away.

The key to finding the stolen gear stemmed from a firm grasp of the obvious: “It took six of us two days to move the stuff after we bought it,” Blaser said. “We knew it couldn’t have gone far.”

On the morning of Jan. 10, Blaser called Canelos and suggested they search the facility, which had an opening between the ceiling and the wall in each unit. Canelos grabbed a ladder and Blaser served as the lookout, in case the thieves returned.

Less than 15 minutes later, Canelos and his guiding partner, Cullen Traverso, found the merchandise, most of which was hidden, except for two one-piece Hardy and NRX rods.

“The very last unit we checked, there it was,” Canelos said. “I was excited yet angry seeing all my stuff inside someone else’s unit.”

St. Johns County authorities issued a search warrant and confirmed that the merchandise belonged to Blaser and Canelos. A day later, sheriff’s deputies arrested one suspect, Clay Jordan Neville, 27, of American Fork, Utah.

 

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