Pinellas County cracking down on unlicensed contractors

The mission was simple: Finding and arresting those operating as contractors without a license. The Pinellas County sheriff says it was like shooting fish in a barrel.  

“During this whole operation all weekend long, not one person showed up that was legit,” Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

The suspects came to a business in a St. Petersburg shopping plaza, where undercover deputies used a vacant shop to inquire about work. The undercover deputies responded to ads on websites like Craigslist and the NextDoor App for jobs like painting, tiling, and electrical work. 

“And these people who came to this business offered to engage in this contracting work without a license and without pulling the appropriate permits,” the sheriff said.

The undercover sting resulting in over 25 arrests.

Antonio Signoretti, who owns the tattoo parlor next to where this unfolded, thought something was off Saturday when he saw a car parked in the lot for hours.

“There was a suspicious Volvo that had a sticker on it and they said they were trying to get contractors to bid,” Signoretti said.

As a tattoo artist – who’s required to have a license to operate – he’s glad the arrests were made.

"It's a bad reflection on other contractors who work hard for what they do and actually take the time to get their licenses,” Signoretti added.

The sheriff says the total value of the work these individuals offered to do without being licensed was $66,000, and jobs ranged from $700 to $6,500, depending on the work.