Suspect identified in thefts of Highwaymen paintings in Melbourne

Auction manager had purchased stolen art

George Rivera is accused of stealing Highwaymen paintings. (Melbourne Police Department)

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Months after several Highwaymen paintings were stolen during a series of burglaries, Melbourne police say they’ve identified a suspect in the crime.

A total of seven paintings were stolen from a house on Melbourne Avenue in July, Revamp Vintage Market on Aug. 7, 2019 and The Indian River Antique Mall on Aug. 21, 2019, records show.

Police said five parrots were also stolen from the home and have not yet been located.

During the investigation, police said an auction manager at Rennick Auctions in Vero Beach had seen a news report about the stolen paintings and contacted the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office and let detectives know that the business had recently purchased art that looked like the stolen paintings.

Melbourne detectives said they worked with the auction house to recover six of the stolen paintings as well as a stolen grandfather clock and stolen vase. The property has since been returned to its rightful owners.

George Steven Rivera was found to have posed as an arts dealer while attempting to sell the stolen paintings at several locations across the state, according to a news release.

A warrant has been issued for his arrest on charges of burglary and grand theft. He has not yet been taken into custody.

Police said they’re also working to try to locate the five stolen parrots, which might have been sold.

Melbourne police say five birds were stolen from a home. (Melbourne Police Department)

The five birds are:

Little Jim: A Congo African grey with feathers plucked on its legs and chest and bow legs.

Red Neck: A Congo African grey with red feathers on the back of its neck and on its chest.

Buffett: A scarlet macaw that is very thin with good feathering.

Mack/Mackenna: A blue and gold macaw with good feathering except for ratty tail feathers.

Bobblehead: A blue front Amazon import bird with fine feathers, missing toes and a fatty tumor on its rear. The bird often bobbles its head.

Anyone with information about 67-year-old Rivera or the parrots is asked to call Detective Jennewein at 321-608-6456.

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