Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Farm Law Enforcement Office (OALE) announced this week that it has partnered with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office to target a network of retail thieves.
They announced that they had arrested an individual suspected of being involved in an organized network of retail thieves operating in the large Pensacola region and other states.
“As the state’s consumer services watchdog, please know that our Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement will apply the full force of the law against anyone who breaks the law and targets Florida consumers and businesses,” said the state. Nikki Fried, Agriculture Commissioner. “I am proud of the continued results produced by our investigators, officers and partners who are helping to shut down criminal operations in our state.”
FDACS OALE has launched an investigation into reports from a national retailer that a ring of retail thieves rented heavy equipment, removed the retailer’s IDs from the equipment, and advertised the equipment for sale locally on websites.
On March 15, 2022, undercover law enforcement investigators from OALE and Escambia Sheriff’s Deputies met with a suspect in the investigation, later identified as Stephen Graves of Warren, Michigan, to buy him money. stolen equipment for $25,000. During the transaction, investigators located the stolen equipment and arrested Graves. He was incarcerated in the Escambia County Jail on the following counts: Violation of Section 812.014(2)(b), Florida Statutes, Grand Larceny; second degree felony; 1 account. Violation of Section 812.019(2), Florida Statutes, Trading in Stolen Property; first degree felony; Count 1 Violation of Florida Statute Section 817.5685(3)(a), knowingly possessing another’s identification without consent; misdemeanor of the first degree; 1 account. Violation of Section 817.034(4)(a)(1), Florida Statutes, Scheme to Defraud; first degree felony; 1 account. Violation of Section 322.212(1), Florida Statutes, possession of fraudulent identification; Third degree felony; 1 account. Graves’ bail was set at $221,000.