Articles Posted in Theft

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A couple has been arrested for several mailbox thefts in the Spring Hill area.

A 31-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman were arrested Dec. 8 for allegedly stealing items from residents’ mailboxes in Spring Hill.

The first theft occurred on Dec. 6 at a home on Pillar Avenue in Spring Hill. The resident reported the theft of three gift cards from the mailbox.

The second theft occurred on Dec. 7 along Winding Oaks Lane in Spring Hill. Residents reported seeing a man and a woman removing items from a mailbox.

The man has been charged with petit theft, dealing in stolen property, defrauding a pawnbroker and burglary.

The woman has been charged with fleeing/attempting to elude officers, resisting an officer without violence, knowingly driving with a suspended license, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Authorities said the stolen items have been recovered.

The investigation is ongoing.

The holiday season leads to more theft crimes, particularly packages and other items being stolen from front porches or out of mailboxes. While this may not seem like major criminal activity, it is actually quite a serious offense. It is a federal offense to steal or tamper with mail. This includes packages, bags and any other type of mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. Individuals convicted of this type of theft can face up to five years in prison and significant fines.

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Police arrested two women on Monday at the Aventura Mall who are accused of trying to buy thousand of dollars’ worth of designer goods with stolen credit cards.

Aventura police said the women, 31 and 52, allegedly stole five credit cards from a Sunny Isles Beach woman. The 31-year-old is accused of using one of the cards around 4:30 p.m. on Monday to buy two pairs of sunglasses valued at $1,400 at the mall’s Bloomingdale’s store, police said.

Police said she left the store and joined the 52-year-old woman, who was waiting inside a car in the mall’s parking lot.

Officers said they were waiting for the pair as they tried to leave the mall, having been tipped off by an earlier attempt to use the stolen credit cards.

An hour earlier, officers said, the 31-year-old had attempted to buy a designer handbag for $4,800 at the mall’s Nordstrom store. When she used one of the stolen cards to pay, the transaction was declined, police said. She tried again with another card, which was also declined.

The failed purchase triggered an alert, and the credit card company contacted the victim, who in turn contacted the Aventura Police Department.

Aventura police said that the pair had planned to resell the items that they purchased with the stolen cards. Police said they found five credit cards belonging to the victim when they arrested the women.

The 31-year-old is currently being held on $82,000 bond at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami. The 52-year-old was released on bond. According to court records, both women face multiple charges of credit card fraud and theft in addition to the Aventura Mall case.  

Fraud charges occur when someone uses deception to obtain money or other benefits from another person. In order for criminal charges to be filed, it  is not actually necessary that the person be successful in their attempt to defraud property.

Some examples of credit card fraud include:

  • Using a stolen credit card as your own
  • Knowingly reporting purchases you made as unauthorized purchases
  • Using stolen credit card information to apply for another credit card
  • Charging expenses to a credit card without the cardholder’s consent

If you have been charged with credit card fraud, our South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can defend you and your rights. We will pursue the best possible outcome in any fraud case.

Contact us online or call us at 561-367-8777 for a free consultation to learn how we can help you. Your consultation is completely free and confidential.

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Crime fell across Florida in the first half of 2017, according to the Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

While there were more than 6,000 fewer crimes reported in Florida in the first sixth months of the year, a 2 percent drop, overall crime was nearly flat in Duval and St. Johns counties, marginally higher in Alachua and Bradford counties and there was a spike in Union County.

Crime in the first half of the year was down significantly in Putnam County and Nassau counties, noticeably in Baker, Clay, Columbia and Flagler counties.

The crimes of murder, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and larceny were down statewide while the crimes of rape and motor vehicle theft increased.  Domestic violence fell 1 percent, with domestic violence murder and aggravated assault down while rape and stalking were up.

FDLE has tracked crime statistics since 1971.

When you, or someone you love, is facing criminal charges in Florida, it can be a frightening time. Perhaps you were arrested for DUI, were charged with possession of drugs, or are being accused of a sex crime. Or, maybe you were arrested for a violent crime, a weapons charge, assault or domestic violence. It really doesn’t matter what charge you’re facing because you could be facing possible jail time and a criminal record.

Our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you if you are facing a criminal charge of any kind. As former prosecutors, we understand how the State will proceed against you on the charges and how the local police investigated the case which helps us to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Every criminal case is different, but we will mount the strongest defense strategy for your unique case and work to overcome the prosecution’s strengths and take advantage of their weaknesses.

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A top University of Florida housing official has been charged with stealing more than $180,000 to buy $16,000 worth of lunches, nearly $45,000 in furniture and $37,000 more in electronics, a report shows.

The 41-year-old senior director of UF housing and education, was arrested Monday night and charged with grand larceny of more than $100,000.

According to a UF police report, the man used state funds to buy $25,000 in household items, more than $11,500 in maintenance items like lawn mowers and more than $44,000 for miscellaneous items including internet service, electricity and seven cellphones.

The report says the UF Office of Internal Audit also has records detailing fraudulent purchases of a recliner chair, blue-cushioned patio furniture, a motion-sensor trash can, tablecloth, cloth napkins, flatware, plates, lamp, storage box, motion light sensor, pitcher, several floor rugs, wall mirror, a seafoam green cabinet and several flat-screen televisions.

In November 2016, the man used his assigned UF credit card to buy a dining set and hutch at Furniture Kingdom in Gainesville for $1,340 and $1,399.95 respectively, the report says.

According to the report, a witness saw the dining set and hutch inside the man’s house. Several photographs posted on the man’s wife’s Facebook page also clearly show the dining set and hutch that were purchased with UF funds, police say.

Beginning in April, the UF Ethics and Compliance Hotline received several anonymous reports of several employees in the UF Housing and Resident Education Department who were using their positions within the department to make fraudulent reimbursement and expense claims and using department funds for private gain, the report says.

The man apparently told police Monday he was only storing the items and planned on bringing them back. He also said he would make restitution for the items.

The man was trespassed from all UF properties, the report says.

UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said five additional employees who worked under the man have have been placed on administrative leave and may have been involved.

The man started at UF Housing in May 2004 and worked his way up to senior director about a year ago. Records show the man earned $145,675 in 2016.

As of Monday night, the man was in the Alachua County jail, awaiting a first appearance before a judge.

While many people think theft charges are minor offenses, theft convictions can damage your reputation and limit your future employment opportunities. If you or a loved one have been charged with theft or larceny, you should speak with an Alachua County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton. We can assess your case and determine your options.

Theft charges in Florida are no joke – they can result in hefty fines and jail time. A conviction can limit your ability to gain employment. Penalties stemming from a theft/larceny conviction may include:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • Restitution
  • Mandatory counseling
  • Difficulty obtaining employment
  • Trouble securing a professional license

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Florida authorities said three teenagers – one 14-year-old and two 16-year-olds – stole a sport utility vehicle, sped away from officers and died in a fiery, violent crash early Sunday morning.

The 4:30 a.m. crash happened in Pinellas County.

A fourth teen in the SUV, who is 14, survived and is hospitalized.

All the teens all had criminal histories – including one who had gotten out of jail on July 31.

Reports indicate that a Ford Explorer and a Chrysler Sebring were stolen from a Clearwater car dealership Thursday. Both vehicles were spotted by deputies early Sunday morning. Deputies tried to apprehend the drivers of the cars, but didn’t pursue them. The sheriff’s office’s pursuit policy generally does not allow deputies to chase stolen cars.

Deputies believed the teens were using the stolen cars to commit burglaries. At one point, they set up a perimeter to try to catch the teens, but a deputy spotted the vehicles outside of the perimeter.

According to reports, the cars were in a “cat and mouse” game with each other, accelerating and slowing down, hitting speeds of 100 mph or more.

The deputy that spotted them did not initiate a high-speed chase, but the Explorer continued at about 100 mph when it hit another vehicle, caught fire and went airborne. The Explorer also hit a billboard pole.

The driver hit by the Explorer suffered minor injuries, reports indicate.

Officers found the Chrysler Sebring and arrested the two in that car; one is 16 and the other 18.

The teens involved were being monitored under a program for repeat offenders.

In 2015, police in Pinellas made 499 felony arrests for juvenile auto theft, more than any other county in Florida going back eight years, and more than the most populous counties in America, including Los Angeles. The Tampa Bay Times did an investigation into teen car thefts in April of 2017; the paper found that every four days, a teen crashes a stolen car in Pinellas County. It also found that in nearly every other county in Florida, most people arrested for auto theft are adults. But in Pinellas County, 62 percent are younger than 18 – the largest rate of juveniles arrested for grand theft auto of any sizable Florida county for at least a decade.

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A former Polk County school principal was arrested Friday morning on allegations of fraud and theft.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has charged the 46-year-old former principal with 60 counts of dealing in stolen property, 16 counts passing forged or altered documents, 2 counts fraudulent use of credit card, 1 count obtaining property by fraud, 1 count money laundering, and 1 count grand theft.

Detectives said the crimes occurred while the woman was principal. She resigned as principal in June 2015 and was hired in July 2015 as Assistant Director of Academics at another school. Detectives said the woman resigned from that position in Sep. 2016 when confronted by school officials about suspected fraud and theft–a total of $105,426.

The woman was arrested on Jan. 10, 2017 for grand theft fraud, fraudulent use of credit card, money laundering, and criminal use of personal ID. She was released from jail two days later, on Jan. 12, after posting a $39,000 bail. This case is still pending an outcome, officials said.

The woman was arrested Friday, July 21, at her home in north Lakeland. She will have a first appearance hearing Saturday morning, July 22, 2017.

Anyone can be arrested for a crime, as this case shows. Theft and fraud crimes are taken very seriously in Florida, and can come with severe penalties and consequences. Whether it is a misdemeanor or felony theft or fraud offense it can have serious consequences that will haunt you for the rest of your life. If convicted of theft or fraud, you are looking at serious jail time and steep fines. Any type of theft or fraud conviction will more than likely affect your job. Employers do not generally like to hire people who have been arrested or convicted of theft or fraud, which could make it very difficult to support yourself both now and in the future. Therefore, it is very important to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer who understands the consequences a theft or fraud conviction and what it can mean to your future.

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Three men were arrested Thursday on charges of using a skimming device at a bank ATM in Osceola County, according to deputies.

The men, 36, 22, and 38 were arrested during a traffic stop. Investigators said the men were seen removing a skimming device from the ATM.

An investigation apparently began Oct. 20 after suspicious activity was reported at a SunTrust Bank located in Celebration.

All three men were booked into the Osceola County Jail.

Credit and debit card skimming is a form of theft that can happen in many different ways. The most common way is stealing personal information through ATMs. How does it work? High tech devices are installed on ATM machines that see a high volume of customers so that every time a person uses their card, their information gets stored on the device. A magnetic card reading device is installed on top of the ATM’s card reader, which looks identical to the real ATM reader underneath them, which is why customers do not usually pay them any mind.

The skimming device does not interrupt the ATM’s normal functions, so customers can still withdraw their cash, but remain unaware that their data has been stolen. While a person is sliding their card into the device to get cash, the skimming device saves and stores the card information.

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The good news is that overall crime is down in Flagler County, but the bad news is that violent crime is up in many categories.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Uniform Crime Report, the rates of rape, aggravated assault, burglaries and stolen vehicles all increase in 2015. There was also one murder in the county, up from zero in 2014.

Flagler County’s sheriff says his deputies have managed to keep the crime rate low for a long time. And despite increases in key categories, the overall crime rate is still down .6 percent.

The increase has been blamed on population growth. In the last four years, the county’s population has grown by about 10 percent.

The sheriff said whenever they start to see a spike in crime in specific areas, they flood the zones with patrols.

Statewide, crime is also up in several categories, although overall crime is down 1.6 percent.

In 2015, the crime rates rose in the following categories:

  • Murder: 5.7 percent
  • Rape: 6.1 percent
  • Fondling: 2.0 percent
  • Aggravated Assault: 3.9 percent
  • Motor vehicle Theft: 12.4 percent

The report also breaks down domestic violence-related crime by category. Overall, domestic violence-related crime is up .5 percent.

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A man died after he was struck by the stolen van he was pursuing Thursday in Hudson, Pasco County sheriff’s deputies said.

About 5 p.m. Thursday, the man and owner of a 1999 Ford van and his brother-in-law were in a car following the stolen vehicle from Hernando County into Pasco County. The van had been reported stolen in Spring Hill on Wednesday at 9:45 a.m.

The driver of the van, a 33-year-old Spring Hill woman, pulled into a parking lot at 16823 U.S. Highway 19 on Thursday, according to reports.

The man tracking down his stolen van exited the vehicle and approached the driver’s side of the van, when the woman attempted to flee in the van. She ended up running over the man, deputies said.

The man was taken to Bayonet Point Regional Medical Center, where he died of his injuries.

The woman was arrested at 1:46 a.m. on Friday and booked two hours later into the Land O’ Lakes Detention Center. She is facing charges of felony murder and grand theft auto.

According to Hernando County jail records, she has been arrested numerous times on drug, burglary and larceny charges. She also was arrested twice in Pasco County during 2012, according to jail records.

The investigation is ongoing.

The charges this woman faces are quite serious. For murder and grand theft auto charges, she could be facing a lengthy time behind bars along with other severe consequences.

Following an arrest for grave charges like these, it is crucial to find the support you need to build your case. A Pasco County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton may be able to help prove your innocence and clear your name. Our goal is to protect your rights inside and out of the courtroom.

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An affordable housing contractor accused of stealing millions of dollars in kickbacks to four Miami-based developers pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing federal government subsidies intended to help the poor.

The 57-year-old owner of a South Florida based construction company, faces between two and three years in prison at his sentencing this fall after reaching a plea deal on a theft conspiracy charge with the U.S. attorney’s office.

The man was charged with paying about $6.2 million in kickbacks to various founders and CEOs of different housing groups.

297924038_e957335351_zAccording to records filed in Miami federal court, they all allegedly cut a “side agreement” to inflate the construction costs of low-income apartment projects in Miami-Dade County to qualify for bigger government subsidies and then pocketed the “excess” profits.

The man accused allegedly made $1.3 million off the illicit scheme, according to prosecutors.

This man is the second builder to plead guilty in the alleged fraud conspiracy.

Last month, a 63-year-old founder of another construction company pleaded guilty to the same theft conspiracy charge, stemming from paying more than $1 million in kickbacks to other groups, according to records.

Federal conspiracy charges are nothing to joke about. When the federal government has invested the time, money and resources into indicting you on a federal charge, it is guaranteed that they will pursue your case in court quite aggressively. A charge like conspiracy carries significant sentencing and long-term consequences, so it is important that you seek the best legal representation so that your case can be handled accordingly.

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