Office of Public Affairs & Media Relations
5 SUSPECTS ARRESTED, 1 STILL SOUGHT IN FELONY RETAIL THEFT RING
“Operation Blacklist,” a joint operation between the sheriff’s offices of Volusia and Seminole counties, culminated today with the arrests of five suspects linked to an organized felony retail theft ring whose members are believed to be responsible for the theft of about $10,000 a month from retail stores throughout Central Florida. One additional suspect is still sought and is considered a fugitive.
Detectives believe this theft ring has been in operation since 2013 and is responsible for a combined retail theft of $360,000 from retail stores including Walmart, Target and Publix in Volusia and Seminole counties, and a sports retail store in Lake Mary. The thieves have been selling the stolen property to a local fence for resale or, in some cases, trading the loot for drugs.
“The best way to fuel crime is to start with retail theft. That money is going somewhere, whether it goes overseas… or it’s going for drugs,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. “I’m very proud of our detectives, working with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, and the work that went into this investigation.”
Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Chief Dan Purcell also spoke today about the arrests. “We’re very pleased at the results of this operation. We appreciate our relationship with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. We still have some open investigations that we’re still looking at and we hope to bring those to fruition in the coming months.”
Arrested today were five men, including three brothers:
The VCSO investigation began after an Oct. 2, 2016, shoplifting call at Walmart, 1569 Saxon Blvd., Deltona. In a pattern that would be repeated dozens of times at other area retail stores, two suspects were observed filling a shopping cart with multiple bottles of Tide laundry detergent; packages of large and small Tide detergent pods; large and small bottles of Gain laundry detergent; bottles of Gain fabric softener; bottles of Gain detergent beads; and three 22-pound bags of Purina cat food.
The case would soon broaden to include similar thefts in the coming months, all at the same Deltona Walmart. Then it expanded to multiple thefts at the Orange City Walmart, 2400 Veterans Memorial Parkway; Publix, 2100 Saxon Blvd., Deltona; Walmart, 1601 Rinehardt Road, Sanford and Target, Sanford, all in late 2016.
Reports then emerged about a rash of thefts at Target stores, involving the same suspects or their associates, dating as far back as May 2014 in Sanford, Lake Mary, Altamonte Springs and Orange City.
Throughout the more than yearlong investigation of this theft ring, detectives reviewed surveillance video and photographs; conducted photo lineups and interviews; checked law enforcement databases; and tracked the suspects using investigative means.
The arrest warrants have been turned over to the Statewide Prosecutor’s Office, which will prosecute the cases because they occurred in Volusia and Seminole counties.
Administrative offices: West Volusia 386-736-5961 Daytona Beach 386-254-4689 New Smyrna Beach 386-423-3352
Non-emergency dispatch numbers: DeLand 386-943-8276 Daytona Beach 386-239-8276 New Smyrna Beach 386-409-8276 Osteen 407-323-0151