A joint investigation conducted by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Highway Patrol, with assistance from the Tampa Police Department and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, focusing on organized cargo thefts resulted in five arrests during June & July 2015. A sixth suspect was positively identified and currently has a warrant for his arrest.
“Cargo theft is a serious crime in this country, and one that must be attacked through law enforcement partnerships and cooperation. The Florida Highway Patrol has been instrumental in partnering with us and facilitating the resources needed to apprehend and charge the suspects involved in this illegal trade.” – Sheriff Grady Judd
According to their affidavits, on June 15, 2015, PCSO received information about a “preacher” suspected of stealing Macy’s merchandise from a tractor-trailer that he (the preacher) drove.
During the investigation, Alexander Nealy, DOB 3/2/1979, of Plant City, who is a former DeSoto County Sheriff’s deputy, and Titusville and Cocoa Police Officer, was identified as the preacher. Nealy was employed as a tractor-trailer driver for SalSon Logistics, a trucking contractor for Macy’s providing product distribution throughout the state of Florida. Nealy is a pastor at Bay City Refuge Worldwide Ministrites, Inc. in Tampa, FL.
Detectives served a search warrant on a storage unit in Ybor City belonging to Nealy, during which they found 272 boxes of stolen Macy’s merchandise, valued at approximately $72,500. Detectives served two additional search warrants at storage units in Tampa belonging to Nealy – there they found 392 boxes of Macy’s merchandise, valued at approximately $135,800, and over $59,000 worth of Bloomingdale’s merchandise, for a total of $267,900 worth of stolen merchandise. Surveillance video footage at one of the storage facilities shows Nealy and an unidentified individual loading and unloading stolen boxes.
The merchandise included high-end designer purses, shoes, fragrances, and clothing. The FHP obtained an arrest warrant for Nealy, charging him with Felony Cargo Theft, and he was placed under arrest on June 25, 2015, at his church, located at 1602 North Florida Avenue in Tampa. He was booked into the HCSO jail and released after posting bond. His criminal history includes multiple traffic offenses.
During the investigation, the PCSO Organized Retail Crime task force was notified by Macy’s Asset Protection Investigators that they suspected merchandise was being stolen between the distribution center and retail stores. PCSO notified FHP, as part of the ongoing joint cargo theft task force between the two agencies, and an investigation ensued.
Two suspected drivers for SalSon Logistics were identified:
· Roberto Barahona, DOB 3/9/1970, of 5000 South Himes Ave, Apt 424, Tampa
· Jorge Salazar Brito, DOB 6/4/1988, of 4617 Bristol Way, Apt 4, Tampa
During the investigation, detectives conducted surveillance on the two suspects, and observed them moving cargo from their SalSon trailers to a large shipping container in a fenced lot in Tampa. Macy’s personnel inspected the trailers and found the tamper seals were manipulated, and numerous boxes were opened with items removed.
Both were arrested for Felony Cargo Theft and booked into the HCSO jail. A search of Barahona’s apartment resulted in the seizure $30,000 worth of stolen merchandise. Both have been released after posting bond. Barahona has no previous arrests, and Brito’s criminal history includes traffic offenses.
During the investigation, PCSO detectives identified and obtained arrest warrants for three suspects:
· Patrick Brown, DOB 3/4/80, of 5115 North Socrum Loops Rd, Apt 407, Lakeland
· Jerome McCord, DOB 11/6/79, of 2712 Vermont Avenue, Lakeland
· Timothy Waring, DOB 7/21/84, a transient in Lakeland and Tampa
In March and April 2015, these suspects were involved in “burglarizing” Nealy’s storage units and selling the stolen Macy’s merchandise in Hillsborough and Polk Counties -- detectives later learned that Nealy, McCord, Brown, and Waring worked together to stage and then have Nealy falsely report the burglaries to his storage units. Nealy told HCSO, the agency investigating the thefts, that he purchased the merchandise on Craigslist. Detectives seized stolen merchandise from McCord, Waring, and Brown that led to Nealy’s arrest and the recovery of Macy’s merchandise from Nealy.
McCord was arrested and booked into the Polk County Jail on June 5, 2015, where he remains on no bond. He was originally charged with VOP (Petit Theft), Possession of Marijuana & Meth, Possession of Paraphernalia. Detectives have added on a Dealing in Stolen Property charge. His criminal history includes multiple drug charges, Possession of Weapon by Convicted Felon, Fleeing to Elude, Resisting Arrest, Grand Theft, Possession of Burglary Tools, Failure to Appear, VOP, DUI. He told detectives he is receiving government assistance.
Brown was arrested and booked into the Polk County Jail on July 2, 2015, where he remains on no bond. He has been charged with Non-Payment of Child Support, and Dealing in Stolen Property. His criminal history includes Sale of Marijuana & Cocaine, Resisting Arrest, Fleeing to Elude, DWLSR Habitual, and Possession of Marijuana. He told detectives that he is receiving government assistance.
Waring was previously arrested and booked into the Polk County Jail for Possession of Marijuana and Paraphernalia on June 5, 2015, and was released after posting $1,000 bond. Detectives have obtained a warrant for his arrest for Dealing in Stolen Property. His criminal history includes Possession of Marijuana, Resisting Arrest, Burglary, Aggravated Assault, Fraud, Violation of Injunction, VOP, Dealing in Stolen Property. He told detectives that he is receiving government assistance.
Waring is AT LARGE and detectives are seeking the public’s help in locating him. He is known to frequent hotels in Polk and Hillsborough counties. If anyone has information on Waring’s whereabouts, they are urged to contact PCSO at 863-298-6200. Or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a CASH REWARD contact Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS (8477). Anonymity is GUARANTEED!
In all, during the investigation detectives recovered over $300,000 worth of merchandise stolen from Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. Macy’s reported an additional retail loss of $355,000 in May and June 2015 during Barahona’s and Brito’s organized theft.