Dozens busted in retail theft ring

By Melissa Eichman, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, May 16, 2013

Members with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Retail Theft Investigation briefed the public on an investigation Thursday afternoon, in which they revealed they have arrested 16 people in what they are calling an organized retail theft ring.

They are still searching for 2 additional suspects.

The following were arrested:

  • Malynda Ford
  • Julian Betard
  • Shawnda Knight
  • Qulyshia Adams
  • Gerard O’Neal
  • Lanecia Adams
  • Chanice Abrams
  • Taurus Morris
  • Ray A Morris
  • Kareita Green
  • Erica Davis
  • Daiquiri Willis
  • Darrell Love
  • Elula E Cook
  • Terry F King
  • Britney Watts

Detectives are still searching for the following suspects:

  • Kristy Rushing
  • Yolanda King

Last month, Polk County Sheriff's Office detectives determined that 35-year-old Malynda Ford of Lakeland, was possibly involved in an organized retail theft ring operating in Polk County and surrounding counties after she had been observed by the Beall’s Loss Prevention team in several Beall's stores acting suspiciously.

Ford has been previously arrested numerous times for retail theft.

Detectives began an in-depth investigation, conducting surveillance and determining other suspects who may be involved with Ford regarding these thefts.

Over the course of the investigation, Ford was observed and video recorded stealing merchandise from numerous department store chains to include Beall's Stores and Outlets, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Stein Mart, and Winn Dixie.

Officials examined surveillance video from Beall's in which they saw Ford concealing the items on her person.

She often used other individuals to drive her to the stores because her driver’s license has been suspended.

Ford and her associates would then either return the stolen merchandise for store merchandise return cards or would sell the merchandise to others.