Florida Police Bust Cargo Truck Theft Ring

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --

Five people have been arrested by Jacksonville police and at least two others are in custody elsewhere in Florida in an investigation into a statewide truck theft ring.

Police said Eduardo Del Bono, Reynaldo Tapanes, Miguel Avila, Liena Batista and Rocke Lopez stole truck loads of commodities, including rice -- one shipment of which was valued at $23,000 -- sugar and bottled water. Police said the theft suspects also took $400,000 worth of TVs.

Police said the suspects took between 20 and 25 tractor-trailers in Jacksonville, Nassau County, Orlando, Tampa and Lakeland. Investigators said the stolen goods were being shipped to Miami.

Three locations in Jacksonville where the thefts occurred were 3510 Port Jacksonville Parkway and 8719 Somers Road on the Northside, and 5107 University Blvd. W. in the South Metro area.

"In October, we, in conjunction with six other law enforcement agencies throughout the state, started a cargo theft task force," Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda said. "In that cargo theft task force, people were watching the individuals."

Video: TVs, Sugar, Rice, Water Stolen

Police said the theft ring came to a halt on I-95 in Jacksonville when the suspects were arrested. Police said the suspects were connected to every truck theft in the state last year except for one.

"It's very common in the trucking business for drivers to keep their containers somewhere, their trailers somewhere, because there's not a lot of other areas where they can put them, so they'll put it somewhere that they think is safe," said Jeff Devaney, who works where a truck was stolen in Jacksonville.

A tractor-trailer carrying the $23,000 in rice was taken from one Northside warehouse in June.

"For it to be someone to just take someone else's tractor and then start that tractor up and then hook it to a container and take off with the whole thing is very unusual," Devaney said.

The theft of the truck full of sugar at a warehouse on University Boulevard was caught on surveillance video.

The five suspects in Jacksonville were arrested last year, and new charges, including burglary, grand theft and auto theft, have since been filed against them. The suspects' bonds are set at several million dollars each.

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