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Anthony Jerome Woods
Charges: Grand Theft 1st Degree, Dealing In Stolen Property 2nd Degree (x4)
Frank Edwards, Jr.
Charge: Grand Theft 3rd Degree
Kenneth Javon Pride (in Pinellas County Jail)
Charge: Grand Theft 1st Degree
James Julius Flucker III (in Polk Correctional Institution)
Charge: Grand Theft 2nd Degree
(Warrant issued for fifth suspect)
In August 2012, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office detectives recognized a pattern of lawn equipment thefts related to stolen trucks and trailers that were being abandoned along the Interstate 4 corridor. In all of these cases the trucks were pulling trailers containing commercial lawn equipment. The majority of these thefts occurred in residential areas within other jurisdictions, including Pinellas, Pasco and Sarasota counties.
Detectives learned that the lawn equipment was targeted by an organized group of prolific offenders. They would steal the trucks and trailers containing lawn equipment from another jurisdiction. The lawn equipment was removed and then taken to a “storage location” to be sold. A disposal site was selected and the truck and trailer were abandoned. The truck and trailer were typically recovered within a day or two of the theft.
In November 2012, surveillance led to a court authorized search warrant at a storage location in the City of Tampa which resulted in the seizure of 17 pieces of stolen lawn equipment from 12 different thefts which occurred between 2009 to 2012. Interviews confirmed links between associates involved in the thefts, as well as how the group conducted business. Additionally, detectives recovered 20 pieces of stolen lawn maintenance equipment from a location in Dover. These articles came from 9 separate reported theft cases.
To date, this group has been linked to 56 thefts of lawn equipment from 15 different jurisdictions throughout the State of Florida. The estimated value of the stolen lawn equipment is in excess of one million dollars. Thus far, the total estimated value of all recovered stolen property by Sheriff's detectives is $302,575. All identifiable property has been returned to its owner.
Due to the thefts occurring in multiple jurisdictions, the Statewide Prosecutor's Office is handling these prosecutions. The five offenders are being charged with numerous counts of Grand Theft and Dealing in Stolen Property. Those being charged with 1st Degree Grand Theft could face up to 30 years in prison. All of the suspects charged have extensive arrest histories for these types of crimes. The victims in these cases were mostly uninsured, small business owners.