A county-wide dragnet brought down four men involved in a half-million dollar tequila heist outside of Thonotosassa, Florida according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. The men involved were found unloading the truck after a county-wide search that involved ground searches, police dogs, and even helicopters.
The heist took place at the Tampa Truck Stop off of U.S. Highway 301 on Sunday, December 30, 2018. At approximately 11 PM, the driver of the truck entered the truck stop in order to have dinner. When he returned to his truck approximately an hour later, the cab was in the parking lot but the trailer was gone. Inside the trailer was 966 cases of Patron tequila. The alcohol has a retail value of $507,105. Law enforcement believes the heist was planned ahead of time.
“We do know it was organized,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Danny Alvarez. “This had been planned because the box truck was there to meet them.”
The four men alleged to be responsible were apprehended approximately 11 miles from the truck stop. According to police reports, the men were in the process of unloading cases of tequila from the trailer to the box truck when they were spotted by law enforcement and apprehended. Law enforcement officials believe they were lucky the men attempted to unload the alcohol nearby as opposed to leaving the county or the state with it.
“Since it was right there near the highway, that truck could have easily gotten on the highway and headed north, south, east, or west and would have been out of our county in no amount of time,” said the spokesperson for the Sheriff's Office. At the time of this writing, it is unknown if the men have hired a Tampa criminal defense attorney.
Theft Crimes in Florida
The specific theft crime the men may be charged with depends on the value of the items stolen. There are five types of theft crimes under Florida law; the penalties for a conviction get stiffer as the value of the stolen goods goes up. The five Florida theft crimes include the following.
- Second Degree Petit Theft – Theft of property valued at less than $100. Carries a maximum of 60 days in jail.
- First Degree Petit Theft – Theft of property valued at between $100 and $299. Carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail.
- Third Degree Grand Theft – Theft of property valued between $300 and $19,000. A conviction carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.
- Second Degree Grand Theft – Theft of property valued between $20,000 an $99,000. A conviction carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
- First Degree Grand Larceny – Theft of property valued at $100,000 or more. A conviction carries a maximum of 30 years in prison.
Hiring an Experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney
Whether it stems from a minor theft or first-degree grand larceny, you should contact a Tampa criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after you are arrested. Omar Abdelghany is an experienced criminal defense attorney that practices in Tampa and the surrounding area. To discuss your case, contact the OA Law Firm for a free consultation today.