When a Home Depot worker confronted two men accused of putting store items in trash can boxes, the men stopped and tried to pay for the trash cans, Florida deputies said.
Their card declined.
The incident led investigators to the discovery of a “complex retail theft operation” involving more than $15,000 of stolen items, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said in an Oct. 25 news release.
The men visited a Home Depot in east Tampa on Oct. 24, deputies said. An employee said they saw the men “filling trash can boxes with high-value items, including tools, breakers and switches, attempting to conceal the stolen items.”
Deputies said the two men tried to leave the store without paying, and an employee went up to them. They tried to pay just for the trash cans, according to the release.
When their card declined, they left one of the trash cans inside the store and paid for just one, deputies said.
Detectives in the sheriff’s office organized retail theft working group searched the truck and trailer of one of the men and recovered the stolen items valued at $3,945.23, the release said.
“Further inspection revealed additional taped boxes inside the vehicle, matching the stolen items, receipts from multiple Hillsborough County Home Depot stores, as well as receipts from two stores in Lee County from the previous day,” deputies said.
In total, investigators said they found $15,497.54 in stolen Home Depot property.
The 39-year-old and 41-year-old were each charged with one count of retail theft $3,000 or more and two counts of grand theft third degree, according to the release.
Attorney information for the two men was not available. Home Depot did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment.
Deputies said they also reached out to Lee County officials about the two men accused of committing grand thefts in their jurisdiction.
“It’s disappointing to see the lengths these individuals went through to steal these items,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. “From hiding items in boxes to traveling across the state, they were more than aware of what they were doing was wrong.”
Hillsborough County includes Tampa.