Friday, May 25, 2018
Public safety

Pair accused of stealing baby formula for resale through Craigslist

LARGO — They hit grocery stores across Pinellas County over the course of a month, police said, in search of valuable white powder with a strong market for sale over the Internet: baby formula. They stole thousands of dollars' worth. Then they got caught in the act.

Last Saturday, just after 7 p.m., Largo police responded to a call from the Publix at 10411 Ulmerton Road. A woman dressed in black had tried to leave the store with reusable shopping bags full of baby formula she hadn't paid for, according to an arrest report. A Publix employee recognized the woman from a previous attempted theft, the report said, and approached her. The woman left the bags at the front of the store, then walked into the bathroom.

Jessica B. Gordon, 28, of Brandon, had tried to steal 13 cans of formula, police said. She wasn't working alone. In the parking lot, Brian L. Oliver had been waiting in their getaway car, according to police. In the trunk, police found more than 75 cans of formula, estimated to be worth about $2,500.

Oliver, 31, of Brandon, told police he and Gordon had been stealing infant formula from stores across Pinellas for a month, then selling it online, according to arrest reports. Largo police found several postings on Craigslist between May 15 and June 29 advertising baby formula for sale with Oliver's and Gordon's cell phone numbers.

The cans in the trunk represented both the couple's haul for Saturday, Oliver told police, and formula stolen earlier that they planned to sell. A few hours before, Oliver walked into the Publix at 5000 East Bay Drive and left with 36 cans of formula estimated to be worth about $900 in reusable shopping bags, according to an arrest report. That time, Gordon had waited in the car.

Gordon faces two felony charges of grand theft, one felony charge of dealing in stolen property and one misdemeanor charge of retail theft. Oliver faces felony charges of grand theft and dealing in stolen property and one misdemeanor charge of retail theft.

Baby formula is a popular target for theft, leading some retailers to put cans behind the counter or in places highly visible to employees. Retail associations frequently cite formula among America's most shoplifted goods, along with designer jeans and over-the-counter medication.

"It seems like an easy target for theft," said Largo Lt. Mike Loux, "and it's a high-dollar return when people sell it."

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or [email protected] To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

The 18-year-old who was arrested this week after police said he was racing when he fatally struck a young mother pushing her stroller across Bayshore Boulevard was back in jail on Friday night.Cameron Herrin, 18, was arrested on a second count of veh...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Last year three members of the 69ers Motorcycle Club gang were implicated in the execution of a rival gang leader in the middle of rush hour traffic in Pasco County.Now those three and two other 69ers members have been indicted on federal charges tha...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Raccoon bites bicyclist, now the Health Department is looking for the victim

TAMPA — A bicyclist in the Palm River area was bitten by a raccoon Friday morning, the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County said.Now the department is concerned the animal had rabies and is searching for the bicyclist."While it is impo...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Police: Baby not abandoned; mother surrendered infant

TAMPA — A newborn baby initially thought to be found on the ground near a trash can in north Tampa was not abandoned, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.The child’s mother gave birth to the boy Thursday, and she and someone else too...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Student says science teacher tackled Indiana school shooter

Student says science teacher tackled Indiana school shooter

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — A male student opened fire at a suburban Indianapolis middle school Friday morning, wounding another student and a teacher before being taken into custody, authorities said. Seventh-grader Ethan Stonebraker said the science teache...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Woman, dog die trying to cross U.S. 19 in Hudson

PORT RICHEY— An unidentified 45-year-old Colorado woman and her dog died early Friday morning when they walked into the path of two vehicles on U.S. 19, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The woman was walking her dog around 5:40 a.m. across U.S...
Published: 05/25/18
A ‘coupon conundrum’ at a Largo Burger King landed him in jail

A ‘coupon conundrum’ at a Largo Burger King landed him in jail

LARGO— A flap over coupons led a Clearwater man to grab a Burger King employee and yank her over the counter, leading to his arrest, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.Miguel Latorre, 23, was trying to use several coupons to buy a Whop...
Published: 05/25/18
New signs indicate reduced Bayshore Boulevard speed limit after racing deaths

New signs indicate reduced Bayshore Boulevard speed limit after racing deaths

TAMPA — Two days after a mother and daughter were struck by a speeding car Bayshore Boulevard, killing both, city officials on Friday began implementing changes aimed at ensuring safety along the busy roadway.On Friday morning, workers began installi...
Published: 05/25/18
He is accused in 13 Gulfport vehicle burglaries. An ankle bracelet tipped police off.

He is accused in 13 Gulfport vehicle burglaries. An ankle bracelet tipped police off.

GULFPORT — An 18-year-old man, wearing an ankle bracelet, was arrested Thursday after he was accused of breaking into 13 cars in a one-block radius over the last week.Benjamin Langkamp Jr. faces 13 charges of vehicle burglary — each of which occurred...
Published: 05/25/18
Warrant issued for Tampa suspect in January slaying

Warrant issued for Tampa suspect in January slaying

TAMPA — Hillsborough County deputies have identified the suspect in the fatal shooting of a man in January.Deputies are searching for 23-year-old Javon Rakeem Turner, who is wanted in the death of 22-year-old Elijah Moore on Jan. 17.According to depu...
Published: 05/25/18