How Stolen Tools are Fueling the Local Drug Trade

Dale Inman tried to run. It didn’t matter that a Hillsborough County detective flashed his badge, Inman wasn’t stopping. He abandoned the generator and power washer he had just stolen and tore out of the Home Depot on E. Adamo Drive. He made it through the special exit for contractors and into the parking lot, where his partner waited in a getaway car.

But detective Philip Merkle wasn’t alone. Officers who’d been hiding in unmarked cars shouted: “Stop! Sheriff’s Office.” Surrounded, Inman eased to the pavement. “What’s wrong?” Merkle called down. Inman couldn’t answer.

Minutes later, after his body calmed, Inman told deputies and medics he had a seizure disorder and hadn’t been taking his medications. He said he was addicted to heroin. Ripping off hardware stores was his full-time job.

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Kyle Walters watched the parking lot chaos from inside his Dodge Challenger that evening in April 2018. He waited for Inman to shuffle into a Sheriff’s Office cruiser before pulling out of the lot. He probably thought he… Tampa Bay Times

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