Police in Florida are searching for three individuals who are alleged to have been part of a multi-state shoplifting ring. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office say that four members of the gang have already been taken into custody. The group is accused of stealing almost $180,000 of merchandise from Walmart stores in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and 26 Florida counties. The arrests followed a two-year investigation that began when detectives in Polk County received a tip about an organized group of shoplifters.

Police say that the alleged shoplifting ring was made up of experienced and audacious criminals who focused their efforts on high-ticket items and expensive electronic equipment. The thieves are said to have sometimes simply placed items in their pockets or bags, but police say that they also used a popular shoplifting technique that involves stuffing smaller costly items inside the boxes of larger but less expensive merchandise.

Detectives say that the team of shoplifters tended to work in pairs or tightly knit groups. A man and three women have been taken into custody, and police are searching for a 46-year-old woman, a 23-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man. A reward of $2,000 is being offered for information that leads to the apprehension of any members of the group still at large.

While shoplifting is generally a relatively minor charge, a criminal conviction of any kind can make it difficult for individuals to pass the background checks often required to get a job or rent an apartment. When defendants have not been in trouble with the law before, experienced criminal defense attorneys may seek to have theft charges dropped by making prosecutors aware of the genuine remorse felt by their clients as well as their desire to make restitution and put the matter behind them.

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