Sheriff's office, police targeting retail thefts
By Wendy Joan Biddlecombe | Hernando TodayBROOKSVILLE - Hernando County deputies have made nearly 20 retail-related arrests since Nov. 23, better known as Black Friday, according to the economic crime report available on the sheriff's website.
Published: December 19, 2012
Published: December 19, 2012
U.S. retailers will lose nearly $8.9 million to retail crime during the 2012 holiday season — or about $98 per American family — according to a November 2012 report by an independent, UK-based research firm. The Centre for Retail Research's 2012 report also found retail crime increased by 4.4 percent. Thieves were most likely to take home alcohol, women's clothing and accessories, electronics, men's toiletries — even teddy bears.
Hernando Sheriff Public Information Officer Denise Moloney said the office has "increased patrols in the plazas for the holiday season, both in marked and un-marked vehicles." Moloney said deputies mounted on horses have been stationed in shopping areas to help deter retail theft as well as auto burglaries.
Hernando County sheriff's arrests this past week include Kayla Tai Porter, 21, who was apprehended Friday evening at the Cortez Boulevard Walmart after a loss prevention officer reportedly witnessed Porter walk out of the store with clothing she did not pay for in a shopping bag.
The officer said Porter, a Weeki Wachee resident, was wearing a coat from a clothing rack in the store, and the total value of the stolen items amounted to $143.30.
Porter claimed she had taken the clothing items but "it was simply a misunderstanding and she did not realize what she was doing," according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office report. Porter was held at the Hernando County Jail on $250 bond.
A 20-year-old Walmart employee was arrested Friday afternoon after reportedly attempting to steal an iPad 2 in his lunch box.
Louis Anthony Bermudez, Spring Hill, was apprehended at the Kettering Road Walmart distribution center after failing to provide an explanation or produce a receipt for the tablet, valued at $399. Bermudez was charged with grand theft; his bond was set at $2,000. Bermudez was booked in July on probation violation, according to Hernando County Sheriff's Office records.
Peter John Ardizzone, 34, was arrested Friday at the Cortez Boulevard Walmart after a loss prevention officer reportedly observed him take two boxes of LCD Christmas lights without paying for them.
The lights were valued at $39.96 and an identification check revealed Ardizzone as a registered felon. The Spring Hill resident was arrested and held on $250 bond. Ardizzone was later booked on no bond after law enforcement determined he was on active probation in Polk County for a drug paraphernalia charge. Ardizzone was additionally charged with violating probation.
Everett Rudolph Dicks III was arrested Monday for retail theft at the Cortez Boulevard Walmart. A loss prevention officer reportedly saw Dicks take a hard drive, place it in a jacket from the store and then walk out.
Dicks later told the arresting deputy he was "being stupid" by taking the two items, valued at $83.88 total, according to reports. Dicks was later charged with probation violation after a wants and warrants check found the Homosassa man was on probation in Hernando County for grant theft charges.
According to Moloney, there were 50 retail-related arrests in December 2011 and 42 in December 2010.
City of Brooksville Police Chief George Turner said retail-related crime always increases slightly in December, with the homeless stealing food and individuals swiping merchandise to re-sell. Turner said on an average day, police officers field between 12 and 30 retail theft calls, adding the department works closely with local businesses and increases patrols during the holiday season.
Brooksville Police Department records show three retail-related arrests this month.