|August 19, 2016
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution is working with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the Tarpon Springs Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to halt an organized retail theft ring targeting multiple Wal-Mart stores throughout Florida and other states. The multiagency investigation led to the discovery of an organized group of individuals committing grand thefts not only in Florida, but also in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
Authorities arrested multiple individuals in connection to the case and identified at least 10 suspects. According to the investigation, the suspects generally travel in pairs or small groups, conceal merchandise in a bag and exit the store without purchasing the products. The suspects also allegedly removed products sold in large containers and filled the containers with more expensive merchandise such as electronics. The suspects then proceeded to a register with the item containing the concealed merchandise and presented the box for purchase never disclosing the removal of the original contents.
The investigation identified 135 documented thefts within 16 Florida judicial circuits, totaling more than $170,000 of loss to Wal-Mart, Inc. The Florida thefts occurred in Alachua, Bay, Brevard, Charlotte, Citrus, Columbia, De Soto, Duval, Escambia, Hernando, Hillsborough, Leon, Manatee, Okaloosa, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Santa Rosa, Seminole, St. Lucie, Suwannee, Volusia and Walton County. More than 20 other thefts occurred outside of Florida.
Attorney General Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecuting is prosecuting the case. Defendants face criminal charges including racketeering and conspiracy to engage in racketeering, both first-degree felonies, grand theft, a third-degree felony, and conspiracy to commit grand theft, a second-degree felony.