By Fred Hamilton
Authorities arrested five people from Miramar and Miami-Dade County in two separate incidents recently on shoplifting-related charges.
The arrests came on Thursday, July 27 outside the Town Center at Boca Raton.
While patrolling the mall parking lot, officers assigned to the Tactical Team saw a rented Nissan Altima with very dark tinted windows. They followed the car and stopped it after the driver did not signal to make a lane change, police said.
Police became suspicious because burglars and thieves have been renting cars with dark tints and driving to their target destinations in the city to commit crimes, police said.
An officer approached and smelled marijuana on the driver, which gave them the right to search the car and occupants, police said
Police found marijuana. But they also found 138 articles of clothing worth $4,272.14 from various stores. They also found a booster bag, which is a bag lined with aluminum foil and used for shoplifting. The bags are designed to defeat the alarm systems at the door, authorities said.
In the trunk were 18 pairs of shorts and 22 shirts from Aeropostal; nine dresses, 13 shirts and 12 pairs of shorts from Express; 10 shirts and eight pairs of pants from Hot Topic; one necklace, nine dresses, six shirts and five pairs of leggings from Rue 21; five pairs of leggings and 24 pairs of jumpers from Charlotte Russ.
The driver of the car, Lashonda Shaprell Ryland of Miami, told police she shoplifted the merchandise, according to the Boca Raton police arrest report. The other occupants of the car collectively said the clothing was for their family and was taken from other malls, police said.
Police charged Ryland and the other occupants, Nia Malika Bell, 38, and Ray Carr, 50, both of Miami, with possession/use of anti-shoplifting counter measures and retail theft with others distracting merchants. They also charged Carr with possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and giving a false name upon arrest.
The second arrest occurred not long after in the same parking lot as other officers with the specialized unit saw a man and a woman with a large bag wrapped in duct tape. The pair then got into their car and began leaving the shopping center but officers stopped the driver, Gerald Livingston Allen, 23, when he failed to signal before making a lane change.
Allen, 23, was driving with a suspended license from two years ago, police said. While questioning Allen and his passenger, Letha Sahanna Young, 29, officers saw marijuana and rolling papers in the car. They searched the car and found a “booster bag” as well as numerous pieces of merchandise from Pac Sun and Express valued at $477.87, police said.
Police charged both Allen and Young – both of Miramar – with retail theft in concert with another. They also charged Allen with operating a vehicle with a suspended license and Young with possession/use of anti-shoplifting counter measures.
Before they entered the store, an officer had noticed Young stuffing a large bag wrapped in duct tape — another suspected booster bag — into her purse before heading into the mall. Young’s purse appeared “empty and flat” when she went into the mall but was “round and full” when she and Allen exited.