In the run-up to the holiday shopping season, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office launched its third operation in five months to crack down on retail theft, the agency announced on Nov. 22.
Operation Booster Buster III focused on retail corridors in Sarasota and Venice over a period of three days. The operation produced 40 arrests, including 22 felony charges and 44 misdemeanors. The arrested offenders comprised 344 prior felony charges and 343 prior misdemeanor charges.
Five of the 40 people arrested were identified as prolific offenders, including one who was arrested two days in a row, first for petit theft and then for attempted vehicle burglary in a store parking lot. Another person had also been arrested in the first Booster Buster operation.
“Forty arrests in just three days exemplifies the fact that retail theft is a monumental problem in Sarasota County,” Sheriff Tom Knight said in statement. “Nearly all of the people arrested have criminal histories but are just released to commit more crime. We will continue our crackdown to assist these businesses and reduce shoplifting in this community.”
The Sheriff's Office formed a unique public-private partnership with major local retailers for the first operation in July, which has continued with efforts to enhance theft detection methods and expanded opportunities to collaborate on reducing retail theft.
“Much of our field intelligence pointed to a specific location near one of the targeted shopping centers where some of our prolific offenders frequently congregated. Crime analysts realized some of these offenders felt the pressure we were exerting on other crimes and turned to retail theft and return fraud instead,” said Sheriff Knight.
Operation Booster Buster III was a product of the Sheriff's intelligence-led policing program. The operation comprised the tactical (TAC), crime analysis and traffic units in addition to patrol, criminal investigations and corrections personnel. To date, the three retail theft operations have resulted in 131 arrests. TAC has identified additional suspects in the most recent operation and charges are pending.
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