Pinellas booze bandits busted after 8 On Your Side story leads to tips

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Four thirsty thieves accused of stealing from nearly a dozen retailers and liquor stores across Pinellas County are behind bars.

Deputies say tips from viewers after several stories aired on News Channel 8 helped identify and capture a ring of thieves.

Suzanne Pringle, owner of The Beverage House, said she can breathe a little easier. Desperate for help, she contacted 8 On Your Side, with hopes someone would recognize them.

Deputies said the booze bandits robbed her over and over again.

After numerous social media tips to detectives, her prayers were answered.

“News Channel 8 saved us,” said Pringle.

Michael Miller, David Labee, Cory Spriggs and Amie Alphonso are in jail on grand theft and scheming to defraud charges.

“It’s nice to know that they’re behind bars,” she said.

The investigation started nearly three weeks ago at a Seminole Walmart, where detectives say Spriggs stole six bottles of tequila and pushed past the employee to get away in an SUV.

Pringle said the same suspect hit her store about a week after.

Investigators said the suspects robbed almost a dozen stores within a four week time period, selling the items they stole.

Miller was picked up last week.

The rest of the gang were busted Tuesday at the Countryside Mall in Clearwater. Deputies said they were caught red handed leaving JCPenny’s with $1400 of stolen merchandise.

Pringle was in court Wednesday as all four went before a judge for their first appearance.

“I’d like them to not be able to come in contact with me, my family or my store,” she said to the judge.

She’s hoping they’ll remain behind bars for a while.

“Hopefully they can’t do this to anybody else, so it’s a huge relief,” said Pringle.

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