Polk County Sheriff's Agricultural Crimes deputies, along with Winter Haven Police Officers, have arrested and charged three men for multiple counts of citrus trailer thefts and giving false verification to metals dealers.
According to their affidavits, 39-year-old Ruben Ramirez (DOB 10/01/1973) of Fort Meade, his brother, 31-year-old Richard Ramirez (DOB 06/25/1981) of Fort Meade, and their accomplice, 60-year-old Donald Ray Mosley (DOB 12/13/1952) of Fort Meade, are responsible for the thefts of over 70 citrus trailers from packing houses throughout Polk County, since 2010.
The trio stole trailers from citrus packing houses in Bartow, Lake Wales, Winter Haven, Davenport, Lake Hamilton, and Lakeland, and then scrapped them at various metal scrap dealers. Many of the trailers that were stolen had not been reported stolen. The Polk County businesses where the trailers were stolen from include: Peace River Packing, Florida's Natural, Dun-D Citrus, W.G. Roe, Ingram Grove Service, and Citra Source. Deputies have additionally identified victims in: Fort Pierce, Vero Beach, Wauchula, and Labelle. So far, deputies have identified 77 trailers stolen by these three suspects.
The investigation began when Ruben Ramirez and Donald Mosley were arrested earlier this month by the Winter Haven Police Department for Grand Theft.
In that case, on March 17, 2013, two suspects driving a white Peterbilt tractor stole a citrus trailer from River Gold Citrus, at the W.G. Roe facility on 7th Street SW in Winter Haven. The theft was reported to the Winter Haven Police Department. WHPD Officers tracked the stolen trailer via its GPS system, traveling along the Polk Parkway. Officials with the Polk Parkway gave WHPD photos of the stolen truck and citrus trailer. WHPD officers gave the photos to River Gold Citrus, and on April 3rd, 2013, a driver for the business spotted the suspect vehicle (the white Peterbilt tractor with distinguishing marks) being hooked up to another trailer at the W.G. Roe facility. The witness immediately reported it to the Polk County Sheriff's Office. PCSO deputies responded to the scene as the tractor was pulling out of the yard, towing another stolen trailer. PCSO deputies initiated a traffic stop on the Peterbilt tractor, and arrested driver Ruben Ramirez and passenger Donald Mosley.
Ramirez and Mosley told deputies they were taking the trailer to make repairs on it. However, deputies quickly established that they had indeed stolen the trailer, and used tape and spray paint to conceal its identity. They also used tape and spray paint to cover any distinguishing marks on the Peterbilt tractor. Deputies delivered the suspects to the Winter Haven Police Office to be interviewed for the previously-reported trailer theft. Both Ramirez and Mosley were booked into the Polk County Jail that day (April 3rd) and both were charged with Grand Theft.
Meanwhile, PCSO Agricultural Crimes deputies were investigating the January thefts of two citrus trailers from the River Gold Citrus facility located in Bartow (Peace River Citrus Plant). After Mosley's April 3rd arrest, PCSO Agricultural deputies responded to the jail to interview him. Post-Miranda, Mosley told deputies that he, Ruben, and Richard Ramirez had been stealing citrus trailers throughout the county since 2010.
Mosley told deputies they would use Ruben Ramirez's tractor or truck, drive it into parking lots of citrus plants during the late evening or early morning hours when nobody was around, hook up a trailer to it, drive it somewhere out of sight such as behind a store or restaurant, remove the company names, VIN numbers, tags, and identifying markings by either covering them with paint or throwing the tags away in random dumpsters, and then scrap the trailer at a scrap yard. They used scrap yards in Polk, Hillsborough, and Hardee counties.
On Friday, April 12, 2013, PCSO deputies filed over 70 additional charges including Grand Theft, Dealing in Stolen Property, and Giving False Verification to a Pawn Dealer, against Ruben Ramirez, Richard Ramirez, and Donald Mosley.
"Through the cooperation of our fellow law enforcement agencies and the business owners of Polk County, we were able to put a stop to the systematic theft of citrus trailers that has plagued these businesses, and businesses outside of Polk County, for three years. We encourage all business owners to routinely check their inventory, and to promptly report any thefts they have to their local law enforcement agencies." - Sheriff Grady Judd
The investigation is ongoing.