Attorney General Bondi and HCSO Stop Massive Smash and Grab Theft Ring
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office stopped a massive smash and grab theft ring responsible for nearly a million dollars in property loss. Law enforcement arrested five members of the theft ring. At least one fugitive is still wanted.
Members of the crime organization face charges connected to burglaries of at least 14 businesses, spanning several Florida counties. According to a multi-agency investigation, the crimes occurred from May through Sept. and followed a similar pattern. The method of operation involved members of the ring smashing a hole in the wall of a business, rushing inside, disabling the security system and fleeing 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. Most of the defendants reside in Miami. 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.
Attorney General Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute the defendants. Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Rita Peters is leading the prosecution.