Florida Keys

His first mistake was trying to pawn stolen spearfishing gear — then he made another, cops say

John Christopher Phillips
John Christopher Phillips

A homeless man from West Virginia is in Monroe County jail after Florida Keys police officers say he tried to pawn stolen spearfishing and dive gear on Monday.

Staff at Joe’s Marathon Pawn Shop would not accept the equipment because they suspected it was stolen, and John Christopher Phillips, 41, the man who tried unloading it left. Not only did he leave the gear, he also left his identification card.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies found him at a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant and arrested him, said agency spokesman Adam Linhardt.

Phillips stole the equipment from a vehicle that was parked at the Brass Monkey bar at 5561 Overseas Hwy. either Sunday night or early Monday morning, Linhardt said.

“A sticker on one of the spearguns was used to find the owner of the equipment later Monday, who once contacted, had not yet realized his vehicle had been burglarized,” Linhardt said.

Phillips is being held in county jail on felony burglary, grand theft and dealing in stolen property charges on a total bond of $10,000. He also faces misdemeanor theft charge because police say he stole a Winn-Dixie shopping cart that he used to haul the gear.