Deputies are searching for several suspects wanted in connection with at least five thefts of gift cards from various stores in Southwest Florida.
According to detectives, the suspects in these cases are believed to be organized and are familiar with the operations of a cash register.
The most recent theft took place on Christmas Eve at the Walmart store located at 19975 S. Tamiami Trail in Estero just after 4:30 a.m. Reports say that two black males entered and attempted to purchase three $500 Visa gift cards. While the cashier attempted to ring up the cards, the suspects distracted her by asking for cigarettes. When the employer turned around to grab the cigarettes, one of the suspects used the opportunity to reach over the counter and press the cash out button, which completed the purchase and activated the untraceable cards. As a result, the cashier was under the impression that the two males had paid for the items while her back was turned.
The theft was not noticed until store managers realized the register was short later that night. Surveillance footage was found showing the two males pulling the scam that let them leave with $1,500 in stolen gift cards.
The suspects in the December 24 crime were described as black males – one with long dreads, a blue shirt and blue sweatpants and the other with short dreads, a long sleeved blue and white shirt and black jeans.
In addition, at least three other similar crimes in Lee County and two others in Charlotte County have been reported with several different suspects including a black females. The string of thefts, which began in late November and stretching into late December, has included Family Dollar stores, Dollar General stores, and Walmart locations.
Anyone who can identify the suspects from the security footage should call 1-800-780-TIPS (8477) to make a report anonymously.
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