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5 arrested, 1 sought in Florida retail theft ring

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd suspects new jobs are as 'jail inmates'

BARTOW, Fla. – The Polk County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that it busted an organized retail theft ring that netted over $2 million in stolen goods from several Central Florida counties.

Officials said the PCSO Organized Retail Crime Unit and partners conducted a large-scale undercover investigation sting in February, focusing on a criminal enterprise of organized retail theft suspects who stole merchandise from stores in 14 Florida within eight judicial circuits. 

According to their affidavits, the suspects engaged in an ongoing course of criminal conduct between four and five nights a week, hitting eight to 10 businesses each day. Of the 150 reported thefts in the state, at least 25 occurred in Polk County. The suspects took the stolen merchandise to several different locations and sold or "fenced" it, including shipping stolen goods to Cuba, and profited from it, resulting in felony racketeering charges, officials said.

"Partnerships are what make the difference between a good investigation, and a great one," Sheriff Grady Judd said. "When we work together, not just with other law enforcement agencies, but with our retail loss prevention professionals, we can successfully apprehend and prosecute those who make their living stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise and dealing in stolen property. Not a single one of these suspects actually has a job. We're happy to announce that their new occupation is 'jail inmate.'"

Deputies said the investigation began when Publix organized retail crime investigators contacted PCSO about a group of suspects who were committing retail thefts in their stores, stealing mainly health and beauty items, such as dental whitening strips, over the counter medications, electric toothbrushes, and razors, as well as clothing and shoes, and then selling them on the black market. 

The crimes were committed at the following businesses throughout the counties of Hernando, Lake, Marion, Sumter, Pasco, Pinellas, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Manatee, Sarasota, Hillsborough, St. Lucie, and Lee:

•    Burlington 
•    CVS
•    JC Penney
•    Publix
•    Walgreens
•    Winn-Dixie (Southeastern Grocers)

PCSO has filed a total of 31 felony charges against the six suspects, but the investigation is ongoing, and more charges are pending. 

Three of the suspects have criminal histories, with a combined total of 33 previous felony and 9 previous misdemeanor charges, deputies said.

Deputies said those arrested on Friday were:

  • 33-year-old Santiago Martinez Jorrin of Royal Sand Circle in Tampa; arrested and charged with 1 count cheating or gross fraud (F-3); 2 counts grand theft (F-3); 1 count dealing in stolen property (F-2); 1 count criminal conspiracy to violate racket act (F-1); and 1 count racketeering (F-1). His criminal history includes 26 felonies and 6 misdemeanors, with charges such as aggravated battery, petit theft, retail theft, grand theft, possession/use of antishoplifting device, criminal mischief, resisting arrest, failure to appear, and tampering with a witness. He was just released on bond from the HCSO jail in February 2019, for retail theft, grand theft, tampering with a witness, aggravated battery, and resisting arrest. During the search warrant, detectives found paperwork confirming his enrollment in the government food stamp program. 
  • 47-year-old Tomas Rodriguez Oliva of Country Square Court inTampa; arrested and charged with 1 count cheating or gross fraud (F-3); 3 counts grand theft (F-3); 1 count dealing in stolen property (F-2); 1 count criminal conspiracy to violate racket act (F-1); and 1 count racketeering (F-1). During the search warrant, detectives found paperwork confirming his enrollment in the government food stamp program. 
  • 43-year-old Reynel Hernandez Perdomo of Palm Way in Tampa; arrested and charged with 1 count cheating or gross fraud (F-3); 1 count director of dealing in stolen property (F-1); 1 count criminal conspiracy to violate racket act (F-1); and 1 count racketeering (F-1). 
  • 31-year-old Dayron Ramon Torres of West Waters Avenue in Tampa; owner of Star Barbershop, fencing location; arrested and charged with 1 count cheating or gross fraud (F-3); 1 count dealing in stolen property (F-2); and 1 count criminal conspiracy to violate racket act (F-1). 
  • 34-year-old Danays Acosta Benitez of West Waters Avenue in Tampa; owner of Cuba la Bella, fencing location; arrested and charged with 1 count cheating or gross fraud (F-3); 1 count dealing in stolen property (F-2); and 1 count criminal conspiracy to violate racket act (F-1). Her criminal history includes a previous arrest in Osceola County for petit theft. 
  • Deputies have issued a warrant for Michael Jimenez's arrest. 32-year-old Michael Baladron Jimenez of West Aileen Street in Tampa; charged via warrant with 1 count cheating or gross fraud (F-3); 3 counts grand theft (F-3); 1 count possession of antitheft device (F-3); 1 count dealing in stolen property (F-2); 1 count criminal conspiracy to violate racket act (F-1); and 1 count racketeering (F-1). His criminal history includes 7 felonies and 2 misdemeanors, with charges such as grand theft, resisting arrest, failure to appear, and DWLSR.