SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. – A man accused of stealing multiple pieces of historic Highwaymen art worth thousands of dollars has been identified, according to reports from Melbourne Police Department.
Police said George Steven Rivera of Maple Drive in Satellite Beach has stolen multiple pieces of Highwaymen art from local antique shops and homes over the past year, News 6 partner Florida Today reports.
They believe he has been posing as an art dealer to sell the works around the Central Florida area. They are now looking for help in locating him.
The Highwaymen artists are a group of largely self-taught, mid-20th century African American painters known for their colorful Florida landscapes. Their art is among the most famous to come out of Florida and has been a collector’s item for decades.
On July 18 of last year, officers responded to a home on Melbourne Avenue where several of the paintings had been stolen during a burglary. Rivera also stole five parrots from the home, police said.
On Aug. 7, officers responded to Revamp Vintage Market located at 700 W. Eau Gallie Blvd. where more Highwaymen art was stolen.
Two weeks after that, on Aug. 21, police found more Highwaymen art missing from The Indian River Antique Mall at 1433 S Babcock Street.
After police began investigating the thefts, a local news station broadcast a segment on the missing Highwaymen art. An auction manager at Rennick Auctions in Vero Beach caught the story and realized the paintings he'd recently bought were similar to those described in the burglaries.
Melbourne detectives and the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office were able to recover six stolen pieces of art, a grandfather clock and a stolen vase from the auction house, returning the pieces to their owners.
According to police, detectives were able to develop probable cause for George Rivera in connection with the stolen art on charges of burglary and grand theft.
The parrots from the first burglary were not recovered and police are still searching for the animals.
- Congo African Grey with chest and legs feathers plucked, named “Little Jim"
- Congo African Grey with red feathers on the back of neck and on chest, named "Red Neck"
- Scarlet Macaw who is very thin, named "Buffett"
- Blue and Gold Macaw named "Mack/Mackenna"
- Blue Front Amazon who is missing toes and has a fatty tumor on the rear, bobbles his head a lot named “Bobblehead”
Anyone with additional information on the location of Rivera or the parrots are urged to contact detectives at 321-608-6456.