Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announced the takedown of a multi-state and multi-million dollar Walmart theft operation Friday.
The retail theft operation involved making fraudulent returns on Walmart televisions in exchange for cash. The organized crime spree resulted in $3.6 million of loses to the retail giant since 2014.
Between just August 2019 and March 2020, investigators with the Polk County Organized Retail Crime Unit discovered over $300,000 in loses countrywide — including $174,500 in Florida and $3,500 in Polk County.
“These aren’t petty shoplifters, these are criminals,” Judd said.
So far, two suspects have been arrested, one has died of natural causes, and two are still at large.
In Florida, Judd said the suspects hit Walmart stores in 39 different counties, including Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota.
Judd said he couldn’t go into too much detail about the scheme the suspects devised, because he “doesn’t want to train” future criminals. He did reveal, however, that the suspects would purchase large, expensive televisions from Walmart for cash, replace the TV in the box with a salvaged TV, return them to the store for cash, and re-sell the new (stolen) televisions.
Judd said they were caught after investigation revealed the serial number on the TV’s menu guide didn’t match the serial number marked on the outside of the TV and box… InformNY.com