Indiana Jones would be proud. Maybe.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office issued warrants Thursday for two Orange County men it said bought more than $6,000 worth of hard-drives from Target stores across Central Florida and returned them. Only, instead of hard drives, the boxes were filled with Play-Doh.
"The weight of the boxes was similar to the weight they would be had they contained the actual hard drives," The Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
According to the release, between January 16 and 18, Jose Rivera, Jr. bought 69 Seagate hard drives from 16 Targets in Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia counties. Ranier Bentulan then used Rivera’s receipts to successfully return the putty-filled boxes, valued at $6,159. After the returns, employees opened the boxes to find Play-Doh instead of hard drives.
The Sheriff’s Office worked with the Florida Attorney General’s Office to secure warrants for Rivera, 36, of Winter Park, and Bentulan, 32, of Orlando. Both men face charges of organized scheme to defraud and conspiracy to commit organized scheme to defraud. The Sheriff’s Office said it believes both men are currently in Orange County and a joint effort with Orlando police and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is underway to apprehend the men.
"This is certainly a creative twist on a fraudulent return, but you can be sure that when we arrest these suspects, the handcuffs we use won’t be made out of Play-Doh," Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said. "They’ll be metal, and they’ll both be taking a ride to jail."
Rivera has previously been arrested for dealing in stolen property, petty theft, grand theft, burglary, possession of marijuana, and driving with a license suspended or revoked. He spent four years in prison, the Sheriff’s Office said. He is 5-feet 9-inches tall and weighs about 190 pounds and has a "Jesus" tattoo on his right arm.
Bentulan’s history includes arrests for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, destruction of evidence, trafficking in cocaine, resisting arrest, grand theft auto, petty theft and burglary. He’s 5-feet 11-inches, 190 pounds and has tattoos of a lion, "Diane n Nyla" on his left arm; "thro lifestyle" on his chest, a five-point star, "son," "LK5," money bags, and "give me the loot" on his left hand; the number 12 and "Carmen" on his left leg; "Michele" on the back of his neck; a gun and "NYC" on his right arm; and "true" on his stomach. He was in state prison from 2007 until 2008.
The Sherriff’s Office asks anyone with information to call (863) 298-6200.
Anonymous tips can be made to Heartland Crime Stoppers at (800) 226 TIPS (8477), or www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com by clicking on "Submit A Tip" tab, or with smart devices by downloading the "P3tips" app.
Daniel Figueroa IV can be reached at [email protected] Follow @danuscripts