TAMPA — Two men stole 45 designer handbags valued at $66,840 from a Tampa boutique in March, according to a search warrant filed in Hillsborough County District Court.
The theft took place about 2 a.m. on March 7 when the men used a crowbar to shatter a glass window and enter Couture Designer Resale Boutique at 10117 Montague St. in Westchase, the warrant says.
Security footage captured the men grabbing the bags and fleeing in a black 2017 Ford Explorer. Hillsborough deputies say they chased the vehicle until its occupants abandoned it at 6920 N Dale Mabry Highway — with the handbags still inside.
The warrant says the Explorer was a rental vehicle loaned to someone through the peer-to-peer car-sharing company Turo.
No arrest had been made in the case as of this week, said Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Marco Villareal. The man who rented the car from Turo, however, was the focus of the search warrant filed. Deputies sought access to his texts, call logs and other digital material on the man’s cellphone before, during and after the theft.
Subscriber information from Verizon said the man is from Atlanta and that he made numerous calls the morning of March 7.
Deputies say the renter told the Explorer’s owner, Larry Clayton, two days after the theft that he couldn’t return the vehicle because it had been stolen.
Clayton told deputies he used a service called Bouncie that tracks where and how renters drive his SUV. Data from the service showed the SUV was near Couture Designer Resale Boutique at the time of the theft and later was driven as fast as 101 mph while fleeing from deputies. The service also detected “hard braking” around the time the vehicle was abandoned, the warrant states.
Deputies recovered Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel and MCM handbags from the SUV, as well as a yellow crowbar, neon gloves, slippers and a handgun, according to the warrant. Many of the bags still had tags on them from the boutique.
The theft comes amid a national wave of “smash-and-grab” crimes that included the theft of $1 million in Hermes bags in December from a South Florida boutique store.
Deputies wrote in the warrant that they plan to charge the suspects with burglary of an unoccupied structure with property damage in excess of $1,000 and grand theft third degree.