TAMPA — Detectives have arrested 34 people in the sale of stolen power tools and other items from retailers including Home Depot through websites such as OfferUp, Letgo and Facebook Marketplace.
The arrests last week capped a two month investigation by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office that included a sting operation April 19 and 20 targeting thieves who stole items from four Home Depot stores in Brandon, Riverview, Valrico and Sun City Center, the Sheriff's Office said.
The thieves sold the stolen goods to intermediaries, or fences, and the fences sold them to the public through the websites at 30 percent off the retail price, claiming they were authorized product dealers, had bought the items in bulk, or were selling a gift they received, the Sheriff's Office said.
All told, The Home Depot Corp. reported power tool thefts of $2.4 million from those four stores during a recent 12-month period, the Sheriff's Office said. Sheriff's detectives worked with Home Depot corporate security on the investigation.
The investigation also included raids April 24 on the homes of four people identified as fences. The Sheriff's Office arrested Joshua Burr, 31; Kyle Walters, 37; Duane Gutherie, 46; and Aaron Orr, 34.
During the arrests, the Sheriff's Office seized more than $90,000 in new merchandise still in the box, more than 5 pounds of marijuana, a stolen boat and trailer, and two stolen cars.