Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight today released the results of “Operation Booster Buster,” a crackdown on retail theft by individuals and organized crime rings.
The sheriff’s office formed a unique public-private partnership with several major retailers to curb retail theft, which is a global issue and multi-million dollar problem locally. Retail theft adds to the rising cost of doing business and impacts merchants and consumers alike.
During the operation, which spanned about eight days, deputies worked two retail corridors: Cattlemen Road just south of Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota, and US 41 just south of Jacaranda Boulevard in Venice. Store loss prevention reported crimes directly to the operation sergeant and personnel moved in to apprehend the criminals and immediately recover stolen merchandise.
Deputies made 59 arrests and obtained warrants for two additional suspects. All totaled these criminals have nearly 1,000 prior charges and now face 99 new charges. Fifteen prolific offenders were apprehended in this operation and some arrestees belonged to two organized retail theft rings out of Lee County.
“This operation was another innovation of ‘Intelligence 2 Action,’ our approach to intelligence led policing,” said Sheriff Knight. “Local analysis dictated a need to visibly address a consistent problem of retail theft. Locations were chosen based on crime
mapping and field intelligence. Our goal was to not only assist these businesses but also to send a message to criminals that there is a strong collaboration against retail crimes in this community.”
In addition to these arrests, the sheriff’s office is working with local retailers to identify measures that can be taken to harden their locations to further reduce thefts. Roundtable discussions regarding loss prevention issues and trends will also continue.
“Operation Booster Buster” utilized the Tactical, Intelligence and Crime Analysis units, Criminal Investigations, Traffic, Patrol, Corrections, Crime Prevention and Reserve Deputies.
During the press conference, Sheriff Knight also thanked Walmart, Home Depot, Beall’s, Beall’s Outlet, Burglington Coat Factory, Target and Sports Authority for their commitment to loss prevention and for working with law enforcement to combat retail theft throughout Sarasota County.