WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Surrounded by law enforcement figures from across the state, the Florida Attorney General announced a new task force dedicated to sharing intel from different counties on organized retail theft.
During the Thursday morning press conference at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Attorney General Ashley Moody said her department has received about 60 cases involving over 250 individuals related to organized retail theft since entering office.
"We have put together a really talented team," she said, "to participate on a statewide organized retail crime task force. Connecting the cases is key."
She said a computer database will be used to exchange information and identify potential leaders of an organized crime ring, along with those who they may be recruiting. While she didn't cite where the statistic originated, Moody said 70% of store owners across the U.S. have reported an increase in crime.
"We can tell the difference from someone who is stealing for profit and a 12-year-old who puts bubble gun in his pocket," said Sheriff Grady Judd. "When a van pulls up in a Walmart parking lot or any business and has a trunk full of new TVs…in our business, we call that a clue. You need to call us."
St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway said the task force essentially eliminates the borders between counties.
"This is not about shoplifting, this is about organized crime. Through this task force, the main thing that is going to happen is there is no longer any city lines, any county lines. We are going to be sharing information," he explained. "Don’t be surprised if somebody comes knocking on your door and thinking you made it out of that county."
Moody says the exchange will make finding and prosecuting thieves easier and more efficient.
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