Authorities stop massive smash and grab theft ring in Florida

Authorities stop massive smash and grab theft ring in Florida
Authorities stop smash and grab theft ring in Florida

SARASOTA (WWSB) - Five people have been arrested and one man is still wanted in connection to a massive smash and grab theft ring in Florida.

Authorities say the members of the crime organization face charges connected to burglaries of at least 14 businesses, spanning several Florida counties.

The crimes occurred from May through September and followed a similar pattern. The thieves would smash a hole in the wall of a business, rush inside, disable the security system and take off with thousands of dollars' worth of merchandise.

The investigation estimates the ring is responsible for more than $830,000 in stolen goods and property damage. Stores targeted include boating, discount, liquor, tire stores among others.

The burglaries occurred in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Polk counties. Stolen items include cigarettes, liquor, tires, a hand gun, boating and fishing equipment, and a digital video recorder system.

Law enforcement arrested the following defendants in connection with the crimes:

  • Alexi Ludena Espinosa, 39, Coconut Grove
  • Michel Rodriguez, 33, Miami
  • Yanet Fernandez, 44, Riverview
  • Remberto Gonzalez, 29, Miami
  • Jorge Gonzalez, 37, Miami

There is an active arrest warrant out for Leandro Leyva, 31, from Miami.

All six suspects face charges of armed burglary, conspiracy, grand theft, grand theft firearm, grand theft motor vehicle and RICO.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Polk County Aviation, Tampa Police Department, Largo Police Department and the Bradenton Police Department all contributed to the investigation.

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