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Task force alleges 3 Florida men involved in theft operation

Criminal investigators will use a variety of strategies to file charges against Florida residents. For example, task forces aimed at specific crimes and the use of criminal informants are two ways that police in Florida will pursue criminal allegations. In some cases, the investigations can last an extended period of time until authorities feel they have enough information to prosecute defendants.

Such was apparently the case for three Florida men arrested in late June after a six-month investigation. Two of the men were brothers, and in addition to being charged with theft crimes, they are also facing allegations of selling drugs. The brothers own a thrift store, and law enforcement officers believe the men were selling drugs out of the store and exchanging drugs for stolen property.

Items allegedly stolen from area retail stores and sold at the brothers' store included electronics, baby formula, razor blades and hair products. It is unclear whether the two brothers have any connection to the third man charged, who was allegedly running a similar operation out of a store he owns that sells children's items. The investigators in this case were part of a task force that used confidential informants to gather information leading to the arrests.

The penalties for theft often vary depending on the type of value of the property stolen. If the value of the property is small, the accused individuals could be charged with misdemeanors and punished with fines or jail time. However, if the property value exceeds $1,000, the accused could face felony charges along with a much more serious punishment.

Nevertheless, questions can be asked about the tactics that police used to gather evidence. In some cases, illegal searches, eyewitness testimony and informant information can be challenged in court. After all, everyone accused of a crime -- even when the individual has been painted as a criminal by police and news reports -- deserves the opportunity to mount a strong defense in court.

Source: The Daytona Beach News-Journal, "Thrift store investigation nets 3 arrests, charges for stolen property," Katie Kustura, June 23, 2012

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