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Florida Retail Theft Ring Taken Down With Assistance From Broward County Sheriff's Office

The Broward County Sheriff's Office was part of a state-wide Organized Retail Crime task force that helped nab a massive retail theft ring.

According to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, 16 people were arrested in the $15 million statewide shoplifting ring after a year-long investigation.

The Organized Retail Crime task force was a joint venture that included BSO, Miami-Dade Police, Doral police, Orange County Sheriff's Office, and Homeland Security.

Their investigation, dubbed Operation Over The Counter, resulted in the arrest of an organized theft ring that stretched from Miami, through Broward, and into Orlando.

The ring was a tightly run organization with different levels of workers, including middle men, that led all the way to the leader of the ring, a Howard Seth Katz, 53.

The ring included lower level workers, known as "boosters." These boosters were the ones who did the stealing, taking items such as Tylenol and Gillette razors from Publix, Walgreen's, CVS and other retail stores.

The boosters would then sell the items to a first level fence, who would then hand the items over to a second level fence. The items would then get to Katz, who was the ringleader. According to investigators, the suspects were paid around $1,000 a day to steal the merchandise.

The merchandise stolen totaled to about $15 million, according to authorities, and were sold at huge discounts online.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, the task force began making arrests on Thursday, with members of the ring being charged with racketeering, as well as aggravated white-collar crime, dealing in stolen property and money laundering.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph

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