POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Undercover detectives believe they’ve busted up an organized shoplifting ring that may have been responsible for stealing $50,000 worth of merchandise from Polk County Victoria’s Secret stores.
The suspects traveled to Polk County to commit the crimes, according to a Polk County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson.
PCSO detectives were recently contacted by loss prevention officers from the Victoria’s Secret at Lakeside Village in Lakeland and the Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales. The officers said that since July of 2015, there had been 26 thefts at the stores in which $50,000 worth of merchandise was stolen.
Polk County Sheriff’s Organized Retail Crime Unit detectives worked with Lakeland Police Officers, Lake Wales Police Officers, and retail loss prevention personnel to conduct an undercover investigation from Oct. 20 to 23.
Investigators say they saw the suspects selecting and concealing the merchandise and leaving the business without purchasing the items.
The suspects use “booster bags” which are bags that have a special lining that can defeat anti-theft devices normally located on the front doors of the stores. The booster bags were in the suspects’ possession when they were arrested, according to the PCSO.
“It looks like we were able to stop this ‘panty raid’ just in time. These suspects traveled here to Polk County to steal from our merchants, meanwhile some of them are collecting government assistance. They clearly haven’t gotten the message that we do not tolerate theft of any kind in our county. If you’re going to steal, stay out of Polk County,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
None of the suspects live in Polk County. See the suspect’s mug shots and the charges against them in the accompanying slideshow.