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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Wilder, Scott

Director of Office of Communications 
News Date: 5/16/2013 

 Polk County Sheriff’s Office Retail Theft Investigation Leads to 16 Arrests 


 

Polk County Sheriff’s Office Retail Theft Investigation Leads to 16 Arrests;

2 additional suspects have not been taken into custody

 

As a result of a cooperative investigation between several central Florida retail loss prevention teams and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, detectives have arrested the following people:  

Malynda Ford, DOB 07/09/1978, 3916 Spoonbill Ct., Lakeland; Organized Dealing in Stolen Property, Grand Theft

Julian Betard, DOB 09/02/1980, 3916 Spoonbill Ct., Lakeland; 2 counts Dealing in Stolen Property

Shawnda Knight, DOB 02/04/1987, 1104 Bartow Rd., Lakeland; 1 count Dealing in Stolen Property

Qulyshia Adams, DOB 07/22/1993, 5320 Serena Drive, Lakeland; 1 count Dealing in Stolen Property

Gerard O’Neal, DOB 03/13/1971, 1819 Kendrick Lane, Lakeland; 1 count Dealing in Stolen Property

Lanecia Adams, DOB 04/17/1976, 1858 Grand Bay Cr. #102, Lakeland; 1 count Dealing in Stolen Property

Chanice Abrams, DOB 08/16/1985, 933 Beech Ave., Lakeland; 3 counts Dealing in Stolen Property

Taurus Morris, DOB 09-28-75, 415 5th Street, Lakeland; 1 count Dealing in Stolen Property (F2)

Ray A Morris, DOB 01-16-74, 5230 Wood Circle, Lakeland; 1 count Dealing in Stolen Property (F2)

Kareita Green, DOB 08-01-74, 2911 Chabett Ave., Lakeland; 1 count Dealing in Stolen Property (F2)

Erica Davis, DOB 02-04-80, 933 Beech Ave., Lakeland; 1 county Dealing in Stolen Property (F2)

Daiquiri Willis, DOB 08-12-81, 830 Augusta St., Lakeland; 1 count Dealing in Stolen Property (F2)

Darrell Love, DOB 09-27-76, 2850 Eight Iron Dr., Lakeland; 1 count Dealing in Stolen Property (F2) and Violation of Probation (Felony)

Elula E Cook, DOB 10-23-76, 5995 Beckworth Ave., Bartow; 1 count Organized Dealing in Stolen Property (F2), 1 count Trafficking in Hydrocodone (F1) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (M1)

Terry F King, DOB 12-14-1963, 1035 Baycrest Dr., Lakeland; 1 count Dealing in Stolen property (F2)

Britney Watts, DOB 01-31-89, 501 Hartsell Ave., Lakeland; 1 count Dealing in Stolen Property (F2)

 

Detectives are still searching for the following suspects: 

Kristy Rushing, DOB 12/16/1988, 813 Ellerbe Way, Lakeland; 2 counts Dealing in Stolen Property

Yolanda King, DOB 01/16/1976, 1306 Fairbanks St., Lakeland; 2 counts Dealing in Stolen Property, is also a suspect in the investigation.  She has not been taken into custody, but detectives are aware of her location.

 

In April 2013, Polk County Sheriff's Office detectives developed 35-year-old Malynda Ford of Lakeland as a suspect possibly involved in an organized retail theft ring operating in Polk County and surrounding counties after she had been observed by the Beall’s Loss Prevention team in several Beall's stores acting suspiciously.  Ford has been previously arrested numerous times for retail theft. 

Detectives began an in-depth investigation, conducting surveillance and determining other suspects who may be involved with Ford regarding retail thefts.    Over the course of the investigation, Ford was observed and video recorded stealing merchandise from numerous department store chains to include Beall's Stores and Outlets, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Stein Mart, and Winn Dixie. She often uses other individuals to drive her to the stores because her driver’s license has been suspended.

Investigators determined that Ford usually selects multiple items such as clothing and perfume, then conceals the items beneath her clothing and leaves the store without paying for the items.  Ford and her associates would then either return the stolen merchandise for store merchandise return cards or would sell the merchandise to others. 

Of the 16 suspects arrested during this operation, 9 are receiving government assistance to include food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP), disability and cash assistance.  The approximate total monthly benefits being received by the suspects are $5,400.

 

The following was observed by detectives and store loss prevention personnel: 

04/22/2013:  Ford was observed:

·         In the Beall’s Department Store (Plant City) where she stole 3 shirts and 1 pair of pants. 

·         In the Beall's Outlet (Plant City) where she stole 3 shirts. 

After leaving Plant City, Ford's brother Julian Betard, of Lakeland, was observed:

·         In a Beall's Department Store (Lakeland) where he returned the shirts and pants that Ford had stolen from the store in Plant City.  Betard received a merchandise return card in the amount of $156.67. 

·         In a Beall's Outlet (Lakeland) where he returned the 3 shirts that Ford stole from the Plant City Beall’s Outlet.  Betard received a merchandise return card in the amount of $47.58.

 

04/25/2012:  Ford was observed:

·         In the Beall’s Department Store (Winter Haven) stealing 7 shirts.  (The merchandise (7 shirts) was later returned to a Beall's Department Store (Lakeland) and a merchandise return for $154.63 was received.)

 

04/26/2013:  Ford was observed:

·         In the Beall’s Department Store (Tampa) where she stole 8 shirts.

·         In a Lowe’s Store (Tampa) where she stole 4 drain plugs. 

·         In Kohl's (Tampa) where she stole 8 dresses. 

·         In a Beall's Department Store (Brandon) where she stole 6 boxes of cologne. 

She then traveled to Plant City and entered the Beall's Department Store where she returned 2 of the shirts she had stolen earlier that day. 

 

04/27/2013:  Ford was observed:

·         In the Lowe's Store (Haines City) where she stole 4 drain plugs. 

·         In the Lowe’s (Lake Wales) where she attempted to return 4 stolen drain plugs but Lowe's refused the refund. 

·         In the Dillard's Store (Lake Wales) where she stole 5 children's outfits. 

·         She then travelled to Kohl's in Lake Wales where Ford stole 6 dresses.  Ford then travelled to the Motel 6 in Lakeland where a black Honda Accord picked her up.  Video surveillance was captured of Ford with all the stolen merchandise in hand and entering the black Honda Accord. 

 

04/30/13:  Lake Wales Police Department was called to Kohl's Department store in reference to several subjects who were observed stealing numerous items.  Ford was identified as one of the subjects and Lake Wales Police Department turned the case over to the PCSO investigative team and no arrests were made at that time. 

05/01/13:  Ford was observed:

·         In the Beall's Department Store (Lakeland) where she stole 6 shirts and 3 boxes of fragrances. 

·         Travelling to the Motel 6 in Lakeland where she picked up 24-year-old Kristy Rushing of Lakeland.   

Rushing was observed:

·         In the Beall's Department store in Lakeland where she returned the 6 shirts that were previously stolen.  Rushing received a returned merchandise credit in the amount of $184.77.   

Ford was observed:

·         In the Stein Mart Store (Lakeland) where she stole 2 dresses. 

·         Handing over the 2 stolen dresses to Kristy Rushing to be returned.   

Rushing was observed:

·         In the Stein Mart Store and returning the 2 stolen dresses.  She received a store credit for $120.00.   

Ford and Rushing were observed:

·         In a Winn Dixie Store (Lakeland) where Ford stole 2 bottles of mouthwash, 2 bottle of lotions, and 4 boxes of toothpaste. 

·         In a second Beall's Department Store (Lakeland) where Rushing presented the 3 boxes of fragrances previously stolen by Ford for a return.  The return was denied. 

·         Ford then met with Elula Elaine Cook near the 2900 block of South Florida Avenue (Lakeland) where Ford is observed giving the Winn Dixie merchandise to Cook.  Detectives later determined that Cook bought the merchandise from Ford. 

 

05/02/13:  Ford is observed:

·         In the Beall's Department Store (Lakeland) with another woman.  The other woman steals 7 shirts. 

·         In the Lowe’s Store (Commerce Point Drive, Lakeland) where 4 sink drainers are stolen by Ford. 

·         In the Beall's Department Store (Tampa) where Ford steals 12 shirts. 

·         They drive back to Lakeland and they pick up 37-year-old Yolanda King. 

·         In Beall's Department Store (Lakeland) where Yolanda King returns 6 of the 12 shirts that were stolen earlier in the day for a merchandise credit of $103.94. 

·         Driving to the Stein Mart (Lakeland) where Ford enters and steals 3 shirts and a dress.  Ford exits to the vehicle and gives the 4 stolen items to Yolanda King who then enters Stein Mart and returns the stolen merchandise for a store credit of approximately $175.00. 

·         Driving to another Beall's Department Store (Lakeland) where Yolanda King returns 6 of the 7 shirts previously stolen earlier that day and receives a merchandise credit of $150.17. 

·         Separately the same day, 26-year-old Shawnda Knight was observed by Beall’s Loss Prevention (Lakeland) bringing in the remaining 6 of the 12 shirts that were stolen by Ford earlier in the day for return and received a merchandise credit of $151.38.  Knight is seen entering a white Trailblazer that Ford is known to drive.

 

05/03/13:  Ford is observed:

·         Driving the same white Chevy Trailblazer to Plant City, drop it off at an unknown person's residence, and then entering another car.

·         They travel to the Beall's Department (Brandon) where 11 shirts are stolen by Ford and the other woman. 

·         In a Sally Beauty shop where she steals a pair of tweezers. 

·         In the Stein Mart (Brandon) where Ford steals 5 dresses. 

·         They come back to the Beall's (Lakeland) where the other woman stole 3 dresses and 2 shirts. 

·         They then pick up 19-year-old Qulyshia Adams of Lakeland. 

·         Driving to Stein Mart (Lakeland) where Adams returns 2 of the 5 stolen dresses and receives a store credit for an unknown amount. 

·         Qulyshia Adams is later observed at the Beall's Department Store (Lakeland) where she returns 4 shirts that were previously stolen and received a store credit for $153.10. 

·         Ford is then dropped off at a residence in the Crystal Grove area of Lakeland where the white Chevy Trailblazer is waiting.  Ford enters the white Chevy Trailblazer which is then followed by the investigative team to the Cleveland Heights Country Club.  She is observed going into the kitchen area of the club where it has been verified that Eula Elaine Cook works. 

 

05/04/13:  Ford is observed:

·         With 42-year-old Gerard O'Neal of Lakeland. 

·         O'Neal entered the Beall's Department Store (Lakeland) and returned 4 shirts that were previously stolen and received a merchandise credit in the amount of $206.78. 

·         Traveling to Stein Mart (Lakeland) where Ford is observed stealing 2 shirts. 

·         Ford is later observed meeting with a person in a Cadillac in a Lakeland area Winn Dixie store parking lot.  Detectives later learned the person purchased merchandise return cards from the Beall’s Department Store.

 

05/07/2013:  Ford was observed:

·         By the Kohl’s Loss Prevention Team (Brandon) with Lanecia Adams (Lakeland) entering the store where Ford stole 2 skirts and a shirt.  Ford and Adams then leave the store. 

Adams was observed:

·         In Kohl’s Department Store (Lakeland), where she returned the items stolen earlier in the day by Ford (2 skirts and a shirt).  Upon making the return she presented her identification received a merchandise return credit of $90.18

 

05/10/2013:  Ford is observed:

·         Picking up Chanice Abrams on Beech Avenue (Lakeland)

·          They then drive to Beall’s Department Store (Lakeland), where Abrams entered the store and returned 3 shirts, stolen earlier by Ford.  Abrams received a refund for the amount of $122.28.

·         Driving to Kohl’s Department Store (Lakeland)

·         Abrams entered the store and returned five dresses stolen earlier by Ford from Kohl’s Store (Brandon)

·         They entered a Beall’s Department Store (Lakeland), where Abrams returned four shirts stolen earlier by Ford and received a refund in the amount of 132.76.  

 

05/11/2013:   

·         Britney Watts arrives at a Beall’s Department Store located at 4275 US Highway 98 North, Lakeland, Polk County, Florida and returns clothing articles stolen by Ford on 05/10/2013. Watts returned the stolen merchandise and received a return credit card for the amount of $147.37. (Ford later confirmed that the merchandise returned by Watts was the same merchandise stolen on 05/10/2013.) 

05/12/2013: 

·         Britney Watts arrives at a Beall’s Department Store located at 3565 Lakeland Highlands Road, Lakeland, Polk County, Florida to return clothing items stolen on 05/10/2013 by Ford. Watts returns the clothing articles and receives a refund credit card for the amount of $101.16.  (Ford later confirmed that the merchandise returned by Watts was the same merchandise stolen on 05/10/2013.) 

05/13/2013: 

·         38-year-old Kareita Green went to the Beall’s Department Store located at 4275 US Highway 98 North, Lakeland, and returned three shirts she was told was stolen and received a refund credit card for the amount of $60.91. Green was paid to return three shirts for a ten dollars by Ford.    

·         24-year-old Britney Watts went to the Beall’s Department Store located at 3565 Lakeland Highlands Road, Lakeland. Watts returned the three shirts she was told was stolen and received a return credit card for the amount of $101.16.  Watts was paid ten dollars to return the merchandise by Ford. 

·         33-year-old Erica Davis who went to the Beall’s Department Store located at 3565 Lakeland Highlands Road, Lakeland and returned numerous clothing items she was told was stolen and received a return credit card for the amount of $395.13. She was paid ten dollars to make the return by Ford.   

·         39-year-old Ray Morris of Lakeland purchased $890 dollars’ worth of Beall’s refund credit cards for $350 dollars cash.  Morris was told that the cards were the result of returns from stolen merchandise.    

·         37-year-old Taurus Morris of Lakeland bought colognes and a Beall’s gift (return) card from Ford for $270.  Morris knew the items he was buying were a result of retail theft.

05/14/2013: 

·         31-year-old Daiquiri Willis went to the Beall’s Department Store located at 4275 US 98 North, Lakeland, and returned cologne she was told was stolen by Ford for a refund credit card in the amount of $105.51.  

·         Ford arrived at a store located at 425 South Central Avenue, Lakeland (“Ke’Andra’s Womens World”), which is owned by Ray Morris.  While at the store Ford sold Ray Morris 12 dresses for $70 dollars cash.  Morris was told the dresses were stolen.   

·         Ford arrived at the Cleveland Heights Golf Club located at 2900 Buckingham Avenue, Lakeland to meet up with Elula (Lulu) Cook.  Ford sold Cook $280 dollars’ worth of Beall’s refund credit cards for $140 dollars cash. Cook understood during the transaction that the Beall’s gift cards were obtained through the refund of stolen merchandise. 

·         Ford arrived back at the store located at 425 South Central Avenue, Lakeland, Polk County, Florida. Here Ford sold $120 dollars’ worth of hair care products to an employee of Ray Morris’s for $50 dollar cash.  Morris and Ford negotiated the transaction during a phone call before the transaction was completed.  It was represented to Morris that the products were stolen. 

05/15/2013: 

·         PCSO Detectives arrested 16 people involved in theft and dealing in stolen property crimes in Polk County.   

·         Ford sold $564.46 dollars’ worth of Beall’s refund credit cards for $230.00 dollars cash to Elula (Lulu) Cook.  After the sale was completed Lulu was arrested without incident.

·         PCSO Detectives executed a search warrant on a business located at 425 South Central Avenue, Lakeland, Polk County, Florida. During the search warrant the hair products along with dresses sold to the store were recovered. The products recovered have a value of $380.00 dollars. 

·         All arrested defendants were transported to the Polk County Jail without incident. 

 

Most of the suspects had criminal records:

 

Malynda Ford, DOB 07/09/1978, 3916 Spoonbill Ct., Lakeland

·         Arrested on May 13, 2013 for Organized Dealing in Stolen Property, Grand Theft

·         Arrest history: 18 felony arrests, 25 misdemeanor arrests, 3 felony convictions

 

Julian Betard, DOB 09/02/1980, 3916 Spoonbill Ct., Lakeland

·         Arrested on May 15, 2013 for 2 counts Dealing in Stolen Property; being held on $10,000 bond

·         Arrest history: 13 felony arrests, 12 misdemeanor arrests, 11 felony convictions

 

Shawnda Knight, DOB 02/04/1987, 1104 Bartow Rd., Lakeland

·         Arrested on May 12, 2013, for 2 counts Dealing in Stolen Property; being held on $5,000 bond

·         Arrest history: 2 felony arrests, 1 misdemeanor arrest

 

Qulyshia Adams, DOB 07/22/1993, 5320 Serena Drive, Lakeland

·         Arrested on May 15, 2013, for Dealing in Stolen Property; being held on $5,000 bond

·         Arrest history: none

 

Gerard O’Neal, DOB 03/13/1971, 1819 Kendrick Lane, Lakeland

·         Arrested on May 15, 2013, for Dealing in Stolen Property; being held on $5,000 bond

·         Arrest history: 19 felony arrests, 16 misdemeanor arrests, 9 felony convictions, 9 misdemeanor convictions

 

Lanecia Adams, DOB 04/17/1976, 1858 Grand Bay Cr. #102, Lakeland

·         Arrested on May 15, 2013, for Dealing in Stolen Property; released after posting $5,000 bond

·         Arrest history: 1 felony arrest

 

Chanice Abrams, DOB 08/16/1985, 933 Beech Ave., Lakeland

·         Arrested on May 15, 2013, for 3 counts Dealing in Stolen Property; being held on $15,000 bond

·         Arrest history: 1 felony arrest, 1 misdemeanor arrest

 

Taurus Morris B/M 09-28-75, 415 5th Street, Lakeland

·         Arrested on May 15, 2013, for Dealing in Stolen Property; being held on $5,000 bond

·         Arrest history: 12 prior arrests, 1 felony conviction

 

Ray A Morris B/M 01-16-74, 5230 Wood Circle, Lakeland

·         Arrested on May 15, 2013, for Dealing in Stolen Property; being held on $5,000 bond

·         Arrest history: 15 misdemeanor arrests, 5 felony arrests, 4 felony convictions, 2 misdemeanor convictions

 

Kareita Green B/F 08-01-74, 2911 Chabett Avenue, Lakeland

·         Arrested on May 15, 2013, for Dealing in Stolen Property; being held on $5,000 bond

·         Arrest history: 11 prior arrests,  5 felony convictions, 3 misdemeanor convictions

 

Erica Davis B/F 02-04-80, 933 Beech Avenue, Lakeland

·         Arrested on May 15, 2013, for Dealing in Stolen Property; being held on $5,000 bond

·         Arrest history: none

 

Daiquiri Willis B/F 08-12-81, 8826 Pebblebrooke Drive, Lakeland

·         Arrested on May 15, 2013, for Dealing in Stolen Property; being held on $5,000 bond

·         Arrest history: none

 

Darrell Love B/M 09-27-76, 2850 Eight Iron Drive, Lakeland

·         Arrested on May 15, 2013, for Dealing in Stolen Property and VOP; being held on no bond

·         Arrest history: 15 prior arrests, 10 felony convictions, 8 misdemeanor convictions

 

Elula E Cook B/F 10-23-76, 5995 Beckworth Ave., Mulberry

·         Arrested on May 15, 2013, for Dealing in Stolen Property (F2), Trafficking in Hydrocodone (F1), and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

·         Arrest history: 1 prior arrest, no convictions

 

Terry F King B/M 12-14-1963, 1035 Baycrest Drive, Lakeland

·         Arrested on May 15, 2013, for Dealing in Stolen Property; being held on $5,000 bond

·         Arrest history: 4 felony convictions, 3 misdemeanor convictions