Accused thieves travel to Florida to steal $90,000 in items at self-checkout, cops say

Several members of a theft ring were arrested and accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from Florida stores, officials said.

The “organized retail theft ring” from Georgia stole almost $90,000 worth of items from several stores across northeast Florida, according to a March 1 Florida Department of Law Enforcement news release. The arrested members now face “serious felony charges,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said in the release.

An investigation into the thefts began in August 2022 after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Jacksonville Regional Operations Center received several complaints from stores in the area, officials said.

Stores in Alachua, Flagler, Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Columbia and Volusia counties were targeted by the theft ring, authorities said.

The group traveled into Florida from Georgia weekly and carried out more than 70 separate thefts over the span of 18 months, according to the department. They stole items by making “partial payments” in self-checkout lanes and leaving with more merchandise than they scanned for, officials said.

Six members of the theft ring were arrested — ranging from ages 40 to 50, according to the department. Five out of six members were charged with various counts of grand theft and petit theft, while two members were also charged with racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations, also known as RICO.

Four were booked in Clay County Jail in Georgia, while the other two were jailed at Putnam County Jail and Bacon County Jail, authorities said.

Clay County is about 105 miles northwest of Tallahassee, Florida. Putnam County is 50 miles south of Athens, and Bacon County is about 120 miles northwest of Jacksonville.

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