5 Busted for Racketeering
Published October 18th, 2012
GAINESVILLE - Five Gainesville residents made a living stealing from several Walmart stores in North Central Florida.
Alachua County deputies arrested 19 year old Tyrone Turner, 41 year old Earnest Smith, 25 year old Thalas Smith, 22 year old Donnie Cooper, and 21 year old Facey.
All 5 people are accused of stealing almost 50 thousand dollars worth of merchandise and pawned the items.
Investigators say the group of five would break the locks off the electronics and hide the items underneath their clothes.
At one store in Perry, in Taylor County, two of the five stole prepaid cell phones.
"You can see them cutting the locks that lock the phones onto the shelves, cutting the locks and stealing the phones and them exiting the store," Lieutenant Todd Kelly with the Alachua County Sheriff's Office said.
Detectives say the group of five pawned 379 items worth almost 50 thousand dollars from August of last year to July of this year.
When they pawned the items they got about 12 thousand dollars in return.
"It was quite a profitable venture to do this," Kelly said.
Investigators say they were busted after looking at surveillance video from several Walmart stores as well as tracking the items at local pawn shops and interviewing witnesses.
Detectives say Turner, the leader of the group, pawned the most items worth up to 8 thousand dollars.
All five have been charged with racketeering and scheming to defraud.