WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – A suspect in a string of armed robberies throughout Central Florida was arrested Tuesday while working to plan his next crime, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a news conference Thursday morning that Terell Covington, 32, of Bartow, has been charged in three robberies at Dollar General and Family Dollar stores in unincorporated Polk County, and is a suspect in 17 other similar robberies at dollar stores in other counties, including Orange and Osceola.
The sheriff said Covington confessed to 18 of the crimes, and said his alleged accomplice, Joshua Patterson, 27, of Lakeland, drove him to carry out three of the robberies.
Deputies said they were able to catch the pair because of patterns found throughout each case, including the locations.
Judd said the pair were taken into custody while they were casing another store in Osceola County.
Investigators saw Covington leave his home and meet Patterson before the two traveled together in a Nissan Altima to Kissimmee, the sheriff said.
The men circled a Dollar General in Kissimmee that detectives thought would be their next target until they left and began circling a nearby Dollar Tree, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Deputies obtained warrants for both men before they could carry out the crimes and arrested them, the sheriff said.
Judd said the two knew each other because they had worked together at a business in Lakeland until Covington was fired.
Covington is facing charges in connection with the crimes he allegedly carried out in Polk County, including two counts of armed robbery in December, one count of burglary with Battery from a February attack, one count of robbery with a mask, also from February, two counts of armed burglary with battery in connection with the December cases and two counts of false imprisonment from the February crime, the Sheriff's Office said.
Judd said he was facing enough charges to be "put away for about 10 normal lives."
The sheriff said Covington was also sentenced to six years in prison for robberies he carried out in Indiana.
Patterson is facing one count of conspiracy to commit an armed robbery.
Both suspects are being held in the Polk County Jail without bond and are expected to appear in court at 1 p.m., deputies said.
The Sheriff's Office said the pair could face additional charges from other law enforcement agencies as the investigation continues.