Seven Arrested in Retail Theft Busts in Tampa

TAMPA -- Two retail theft rings, operating statewide, busted in the Tampa area.

Appearing at a news conference with Florida attorney general Ashley Moody, Hillsborough sheriff Chad Chronister says they recovered $180,000 in stolen goods from a house at 3009 W. Crest Avenue. Chronister said the home served as a "convenience store" to retail the items, which included cologne and high-end watches. There was also trafficking in crack cocaine.

Chronister says the stolen goods went out of state and even to Cuba. Deputies arrested 45-year-old Jose Valdivia-Quiñones, after they say he used confidential sources in stolen-goods transactions. According to the sheriff, Valdivia-Quiñones placed an order for a source to steal certain items from certain stores and paid for the stolen merchandise.

The Regional Retail Theft Task Force confiscated more than a thousand pairs of shoes, hundreds of unopened cologne bottles, personal grooming items, clothing, purses and high-end watches.

In the other bust announced Tuesday, deputies say six people are under arrest in connection with a ring that operated out of a house at 2611 E. Emma Street.

Chronister says they developed information on a search warrant, leading to the arrests of Samya Harris, 20, Pernell Bethell, 35, Clarence Walters, 64 and Ronald West, 42. Deputies believe York was the ringleader. He's charged with dealing in stolen property, grand theft, two RICO charges and two other charges.

In addition, 30 year old Konaa Engram is charged with racketeering.

Moody said retailers aren't the only victims in these crimes.

"The mother who is working three jobs to put food on the table, will be paying a little bit more for the items she needs for her family, because these individuals think they can go in and just take what they want and sell for their own profit," Moody said.

Photo Credit: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office