On Thursday, July 5, 2012, Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested 29-year-old Nadia Blackburn, DOB 08/07/1982, 6546 Evergreen Park Drive, Lakeland, charging her with Grand Theft. Blackburn is married with two children. Blackburn is listed as a “suspended without pay” nurse with Bartow Regional Medical Center. (She was suspended without pay after a March 2011 arrest in Hillsborough County. Details of that arrest are below.)
Also arrested was a friend of Blackburn’s, 31-year-old Stephanie Couture, DOB 03/28/1981, 3120 Bonnybrook Drive South, Lakeland. She was also charged with Grand Theft. Couture operates an on-line coupon business known as “Coupon Cutters Co.”
The arrests are a result of a retail theft investigation which began in 2011 when PCSO detectives learned both women were shoplifting merchandise from area retail stores and selling the stolen property on the website “ebay."
Blackburn operated an “ebay” account by the name of NVBNautica and Couture operated the Always28smiling “ebay” account. The women, independently and together, removed merchandise from stores using various concealment methods. Both women admitted to taking their children along during their shoplifting outings.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives submitted their investigative findings to Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of State-Wide Prosecution. A Direct File Capias was issued and Blackburn and Couture were arrested today. Both women were arrested at their homes without incident.
On March 6, 2011, and during the course of the investigation, Blackburn was arrested by Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputies after being caught shoplifting at JC Penney’s in the Brandon Town Center in Brandon. Her young son was with her. Polk County Sheriff’s detectives were able to interview Blackburn while in the custody of HCSO investigators. Blackburn told deputies she started shoplifting approximately 11 years earlier and later began selling items on “ebay” to make extra money. Detectives learned Blackburn had opened her “ebay” account in July 2002.
Blackburn’s husband Paul arrived at the scene during Blackburn’s arrest and initially denied knowing about his wife’s involvement in shoplifting but admitted he knew she sold items on “ebay.” (In later interviews with detectives, Paul Blackburn admitted that he knew his wife routinely stole items, but he said he disapproved of the behavior.)
While questioning Blackburn’s husband, Couture also arrived at the scene. She told detectives she had come to help with the children. She too initially denied knowing about Blackburn’s shoplifting, however, when detectives confronted her with information about the investigation, she admitted Blackburn had taught her how to shoplift. Couture told detectives she and Blackburn had been friends years ago and had re-connected.
A search warrant was issued for Blackburn’s Lakeland residence at the time of her 2011 arrest. Detectives discovered an estimated $70,000.00 worth of merchandise which still had store tags from area stores. Blackburn bonded out of the HCSO Jail on March 7, 2011. Both Blackburn’s and Couture’s “ebay” accounts were shut down in 2011.
Summary statements from the report to the Office of State-Wide Prosecution appear below:
“At this time, it appears that Nadia Blackburn (aka: Nadia Benda) did in fact steal property from various retailer to include but not limited to the following: Dillard’s, Hallmark, Gap, Old Navy, Sears, JC Penney’s, Macy’s, Beall’s, Janie and Jack, Gymboree and Kohl’s. After the theft of the property, Nadia Blackburn would list some of the items for sale on “ebay” or keep the items for her own use. Nadia Blackburn used “ebay” as an avenue to sell her stolen items and also sold other items that may not have been stolen to legitimize what she was doing. Nadia Blackburn also taught at least one person how to shoplift from retailers and this person was Stephanie Couture a close friend. Nadia Blackburn admitted she has been stealing items from various retailers from approximately 11 years which is prior to her marriage with Paul Blackburn.
In regards to Stephanie Couture, Stephanie learned how to steal from various retailers from Nadia and admitted that in the past when their children were younger they would frequently go on shopping trips and steal from various retailers. Couture also admitted the items she stole were either used for her or her children’s personal benefit or sold on “ebay” for financial gain. It was also learned by reviewing Stephanie Couture’s “ebay” history that she would also later sell some of the clothing she stole as used to further gain a financial benefit.”