14 busted during operation focusing on retail spots in Sarasota and Venice

14 arrested in retail theft sting operation

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - In an effort to reduce retail thefts, deputies spent three days focusing their attention on retail corridors in Sarasota and Venice, ultimately arresting 14 people.

"Our deputies commonly saturate heavily populated commercial areas thanks to our established partnerships with the retail community, but it doesn’t seem to matter. It is sad but true that many of these crimes are fueled by other issues like addiction," commented Sheriff Tom Knight.

Among those arrested was Sarasota resident Matthew Simpson, who the sheriff's office said was released from jail on bond earlier this month for a home invasion robbery where he forced his way through the front door of a victim’s home, demanded money, and threatened the victim with a baseball bat.

At the time the 33-year-old was taken into custody during this operation, deputies say he had crack cocaine, heroin, and drug paraphernalia in his possession. He's now being held without bond in the Sarasota County Jail on charges of two counts of Drug Possession and one count of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Others include:

  • Yevgeniy Adzhiderskiy, 33, of Venice - charged with one count of Petit Theft
  • Luis Alarcon-Leal, 22, of Kissimmee - charged with one count of Petit Theft
  • Jessica Allen, 43, of Sarasota - charged with one count of Petit Theft
  • Lacie Alligood, 24, of Venice - charged with one count of Possession of a Controlled Substance
  • Kara Gehrke, 34, of Sarasota - charged with one count of Petit Theft
  • Jaymes Jordan, 29, of Nokomis - charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Violation of Probation
  • Esteban Leal, 22, of Kissimmee - charged with one count of Petit Theft
  • Elizabeth Simpson, 28, of Sarasota - charged with four counts of Drug Possession
  • Andrew St. Louis, 19, of Sarasota - charged with False Identification Given to a Law Enforcement Officer and Petit Theft
  • John Tucker, 38, of Sarasota - charged with Violation of Probation
  • Charles Wemette, 52, of Bradenton - charged with Petit Theft
  • Joshua Wirick, 38, of North Port - charged with Driving While License Suspended and Violation of Probation.
  • A juvenile - misdemeanor theft

Three others, including two juveniles, were issued criminal citations.

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