Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Public safety

Tampa police: 300 tons of steel stolen from company in inside job

TAMPA — A foreman and a forklift driver helped swipe more than 300 tons of steel over the last year from the distributing company that employed them, authorities said Friday.

Southwestern Suppliers, 6815 E 14th Ave. in Tampa, lost more than $400,000 from the thefts, authorities said.

The Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office worked together to investigate. They said they found that company foreman Paul Barton, 35 of Tampa, led the four-man theft ring. He was arrested on charges of grand theft of more than $100,000; dealing in stolen property; and defrauding a secondary metals recycler. Investigators said they also found that company forklift operator Robert Head, 49 of Gibsonton, helped steal the rebar. He was arrested on charges of grand theft and possession of marijuana.

Authorities said two other men who are not employees of the company — Troy Roberts, 53, and Mike Barber, 35, both of Zephyrhills — were found to be part of the ring. Both face charges of grand theft of more than $100,000, dealing in stolen property and defrauding a secondary metals recycler. Barber faces additional charges of probation violation and marijuana possession.

More than 618,000 pounds of steel rebar were stolen from Southwestern Suppliers during the past 13 months, authorities said. The investigation found that the men sold the stolen rebar in 425 transactions over the past year to OU Metal Recycling for $120,000, although it was worth much more.

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