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  • 7 Florida Residents Arrested In ‘Panty Raid’ Sting

    A multi-agency operation has resulted in the arrest of seven Florida residents who allegedly robbed $50,000 worth of Victoria’s Secret merchandise with intent to resell, according to authorities Monday.

    “It looks like we were able to stop this ‘panty raid’ just in time,” Sheriff Grady Judd told the local CBS News affiliate. “These suspects traveled here to Polk County to steal from our merchants, meanwhile some of them are collecting government assistance.”

    The arrests occurred between Oct. 20 and 23. Polk County Sheriff’s Organized Retail Crime (ORC) Unit led the investigation. The local affiliate of NBC News reports, law enforcement was first notified by loss prevention personal at two Victoria’s Secret stores.

    “They clearly haven’t gotten the message that we do not tolerate theft of any kind in our county,” Grady continued. “If you’re going to steal, stay out of Polk County.”

    Store personal reported a combined loss of about $50,000 from merchandise stolen at Lakeside Village and Eagle Ridge Mall store locations. The seven suspects planned to sell the merchandise on the street. The retailer is known for selling lingerie among other clothing and products aimed at women.

    Suspects Pauline Billups and Shantheia Conner have since claimed they were just trying to feed their children. Polk County authorities told NBC that the two receive food stamps. Suspect Tequilla Wilson also receives food stamps while Sherreane Williams collects $600 in disability benefits.

    Williams, Billups, Wilson and Conner were arrested after detectives spotted them stealing from Victoria’s Secret and from Bath & Body Works. They attempted to flee when confronted by detectives. Suspects Donat Simeus Jr., Sheila Wade and Janie Waiters were intercepted by police in the midst of stealing $880 worth of goods from the Eagle Ridge Mall location.

    As part of the investigation, ORC worked with the Lakeland and Lake Wales Police Departments. Authorities observed the suspect in their alleged coordinated effort. The suspects used special bags designed to outsmart anti-theft devices which are normally located at the front of the stores.

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