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Six people were arrested in Brevard County, Fla., on charges of running an operation that specialized in stealing razor blades and other small HBC items in Publix stores across Central Florida and selling the products on eBay and at area flea markets, according to published reports.
The alleged theft ring cost Publix “millions,” local reports noted. As many as 60 of the Lakeland, Fla.-based chain’s stores were targeted weekly, with up to $1,000 worth of items stolen on each occasion, the company’s loss prevention department determined. Officials believe that the ring may have been operating for as long as 10 years.
Gary Richard Powell, Aaron David Walton, Kenneth D. Struve, Stephen C. Walton, Warren H. Goldman and Sam Lamport were arrested after a six-month investigation by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and Publix. Their ages range from 22 to 68.
“This case is an excellent example of law enforcement and private businesses working together on a multi-jurisdictional case,” FDLE agent Robert “Wayne” Ivey told Fox News in Orlando, Fla. “Publix Supermarkets Loss Prevention was extremely instrumental in the development of the case and worked closely with law enforcement to provide merchandise for the undercover operations.”
“It feels good knowing that law enforcement takes organized retail crime seriously and is willing to investigate these cases to ensure justice for victims such as retailers and consumers,” added Publix’s Kevin Shultz.