The Home Depot said its working at state and local levels to try and make the punishment for retail theft at stores in Southwest Florida and at other stores across the country more extreme.
Twelve thefts have been reported at a Home Depot at Merchants Crossing shopping center in North Fort Myers just this year.
Store officials told WINK News it’s all part of a bigger theft ring nationwide, where criminals steal from Home Depot and other stores and then sell the merchandise through third-party vendors such as Facebook Marketplace or pawn shops. Home Depot has an investigative unit designated to organized retail crime that is addressing this issue.
But the numbers from Lee County Sheriff’s Office are still surprising. In 2018, there were 24 cases of theft from The Home Depot in Merchants Crossing. But four of those were grand theft, which means a value over $300 was stolen. Since the new year, there have already been the dozen cases reported.
Just a few days ago, Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers posted about a man stealing a generator valued at more than $2,000.
Shoppers said they are not surprised. One North Fort Myers man told WINK News he knows people who have stolen from the local store,
“Well, I knew some people,” Gerald Titsworth said. “What they done is they’d change the tags. Take a door, those doors, so the door was 29 dollars, and they took that tag off and put it on a more expensive door. So that was stealing. They didn’t catch it, but it was stealing.”
When Titsworth told his friends what they were doing was wrong, they told him somebody else would take care of it.
WINK News contacted Crime Stoppers to learn how many of these cases have been solved but did not receive a reply in time for story air or publication
Trust WINK News to update you when information becomes available.