A Craigslist post, advertising an estate sale, became the catalyst for a carefully orchestrated heist that suddenly turned into a home invasion; and a Fresno Gypsy is accused of being the mastermind.
George Xury Sterio, 55 of Fresno, sits behind bars in Fresno County on an unrelated charge.
In the coming weeks, his new digs will be located in the Madera County Department of Corrections, where he will be booked on suspicion of burglary, robbery, battery and conspiracy.
Through the course of a several months-long investigation, Detective Neil Cuthbert discovered George Sterio sought out the couple after reading an ad about a future estate sale on Craigslist.
Sterio told the detective, typically Gypsies do not resort to violence. Instead, they use diversion and scam techniques when carrying out their thefts. He blamed the outcome of his plan on drug abuse – specifically Methamphetamine.
It is alleged that back in May, Sterio introduced himself to the homeowners as “Paul,” and used a ruse, that he was interested in buying their furniture, to gain access to the residence. Once inside, he had the opportunity to case the entire place. He said he would return.
Days later, on the night of May 16, 2014, the Sheriff’s Office received a call from the victims stating, “Paul” had returned to their home to supposedly look at the furniture again, but once inside, the visit took a violent turn.
He reportedly assaulted one of the homeowners, while the other homeowner managed to hit an alarm button, and shout, “The Sheriff’s are coming!” With that, “Paul” fled, but not before leaving a piece of jewelry that fell off during a scuffle with the victim.
DNA from that single piece of jewelry that “Paul” left behind was sent to a DOJ (Department of Justice) lab. Results of the test, weeks later, identified “Paul” as George Xury Sterio
Just when Detective Cuthbert was preparing to place Sterio on Madera County’s Most wanted list, he discovered Sterio was already behind bars in Fresno County.
Even with George Xury Sterio’s arrest, the case remains open, as Detective Cuthbert believes Sterio did not act alone.
Sheriff Anderson says this is a prime example of why you should never let a stranger into your home.
The man appeared harmless when the couple first met him. He was cordial and seemed honest and sincere. They had no way of knowing who he really was, much less the real reason why he was there.
Anyone with information about George Sterio or the home invasion in Coasregold on the night of May 16, 2014, is urged to call the Madera County Sheriff’s Office 559-675-7770 or CRIME STOPPERS at 498-STOP.
- Madera County Sheriff's Department