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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Bruchey, Brian

Public Information Officer 
News Date: 12/27/2017 

 Three charged with racketeering in retail theft spree 


Polk County Sheriff's deputies have made two arrests, and are looking for a known third suspect, who took part in organized retail theft, spanning a four-month period, hitting JC Penney's and Beall's stores in Lakeland and Davenport. 

PCSO's Organized Retail Crime Unit were able to identify three suspects who were responsible for nine-confirmed thefts within Polk County. The suspects could be seen on security video removing shopping bags from behind the cash register, and then later placing items such as clothing and perfume into them, and leaving the store without paying. 

Gerald "Jalise" Cobbs, 39 years-old from Lakeland, was arrested on 12/22/17, and charged with racketeering (F-1), retail theft coordinating with others (F-3, four counts), and felony petit theft (F-3, three counts). He was identified as the ringleader of the retail crime group, and has been convicted of sixteen prior thefts. His criminal history includes: shoplifting, probation violation, failure to appear, resisting without violence, trespassing, theft of state funds, forgery, passing counterfeit, drug possession, dealing in stolen property, fleeing to elude, and driving while license suspended (habitual).  

Varesha Teron Perry, 30 years-old from Lakeland, was also arrested on 12/22/17, and charged with racketeering (F-1), retail theft coordinating with others (F-3, three counts), petit theft (M-1), and petit theft first-offense (M-2, two counts), battery on a law enforcement officer (F-3), and resisting with violence (F-3). Her criminal history includes: battery and failure to appear.  

Sunsaray Shaquille Willis, 24 years-old from Lakeland, is still at-large, but charged for racketeering (F-1), retail theft coordinating with others (F-3, two counts), retail theft coordinating with others over $3000 (F-2), and petit theft (M-1, two counts). Her criminal history includes: petit theft, cocaine possession, and trespassing.  

"Most people know that it's not right to steal, and most people know that it's not a good idea to commit a crime in Polk County. These three either didn't know, or they just didn't care. Be assured that now they know AND care. Shoplifting affects everyone, and the Polk County Sheriff's Office has a Retail Theft Unit dedicated to going after those who try to do it." - Grady Judd, Sheriff.

The first incident occurred at the Beall's Outlet store of south Lakeland on 07/20/17. That was followed by eight other incidents at JC Penney's stores in Davenport and Lakeland, with the last one occurring on 11/30/17.  

In security video from the 09/20/17 incident at JC Penney's of Davenport, Cobbs and Perry can be seen entering the store, then going to an unattended cashier's counter and taking store bags. The pair are then viewed on the video as they leave the store with full bags.

Click here for video of suspects in the 09/20/17 incident