TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A pallet supplier in Plant City was able to stock up on wooden pallets by stealing truckloads of them from distribution centers in Polk County, authorities said.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said it began investigating Bobby Herrera, the owner of JCI Pallet, in July after he was allegedly caught on video removing seven semi-trailers full of wooden pallets from the Saddle Creek Logistical Services in Auburndale and the Walmart Distribution Center in Winter Haven.
The sheriff’s office said he could be seen driving his company’s semi-truck onto the premises and removing the trailers.
“Herrera was able to circumvent security procedures at the distribution centers to steal the semi-trailers and their contents,” the arrest report said.
Herrera was initially arrested in September and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail, then released on a $4,000 bond.
Investigators later learned his on-site manager, Nicholas Nigel Howard, 36, of Opa Locka, had helped him remove trailers from two distribution centers. According to detectives, the men planned and coordinated the theft of 25 semi-trailers that contained nearly 5,000 wooden pallets. The stolen trailers and pallets combined were worth approximately $935,663.
Detectives say the pallets were taken to JCI, where they were emptied, then returned or abandoned. Two of the trailers were already empty. All of them were eventually recovered.
Deputies said four businesses, Saddle Creek Logistics, Walmart, 48Forty Solutions, and Monison Pallets, were affected by the thefts.
Another business in Alabama, Smith and Company, had hired Herrera to deliver pallets to Saddle Creek Logistical Solutions, but he never did. Instead, he sent them a fraudulently signed bill of ladings and invoices for pallets that were never delivered.
The men are facing a combined 67 felonies, with Herrera being charged with 13 counts of burglary of an occupied structure, 15 counts of burglary of unoccupied conveyance, two counts of forgery, grand theft of $100,000 or more, grand theft, 19 counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle, theft of a carbo in stream of commerce, use of a 2-way device to commit a felony, and conspiracy to commit grand theft.
Herrera’s previous criminal history includes out of state charges from Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico for credit card abuse, issuing bad checks, fraud, money laundering, theft, illegal control of enterprise, forgery, conspiracy, tampering with evidence, burglary of an automobile, and violation of probation.
Howard was arrested and charged with three counts of burglary of an occupied structure, four counts of grand theft motor vehicle, grand theft, three counts of burglary of unoccupied conveyance, use of a 2-way device to commit a felony, and conspiracy to commit grand theft.
Howard’s previous criminal history includes charges of fraud, trespassing, resisting a law enforcement officer, possession of marijuana, violation of probation and failure to appear.