Working with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office this week, we stopped a massive smash and grab theft ring responsible for nearly one million dollars in property loss. Members of the crime organization face charges connected to burglaries of at least 14 businesses, spanning several Florida counties.

According to a multi-agency investigation, the crimes occurred from May through September and followed a similar pattern. The method of operation involved members of the ring smashing a hole in the wall of a business, rushing inside, disabling the security system and fleeing with thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise.

The investigation estimates the ring is responsible for more than $830,000 in stolen goods and property damage. Businesses targeted include boating, discount, liquor and tire stores among others. The burglaries occurred in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Polk counties. Most of the defendants reside in Miami. Stolen items include cigarettes, liquor, tires, a hand gun, boating and fishing equipment, and a digital video recorder system.

Law enforcement arrested multiple suspects in this case. All face charges of armed burglary, conspiracy, grand theft, grand theft firearm, grand theft motor vehicle and RICO. My Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Rita Peters will prosecute these defendants.

For more about this case, go to www.myfloridalegal.com/newsrel.nsf/newsreleases/1EFE07536C6EF1878525834500722080.

Burglaries can wreak havoc on businesses but there are steps owners and employees can take to protect their property. For tips about preventing business burglaries, please visit my http://myfloridalegal.com.

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