$67K theft ring targeted stores at popular Northside shopping center

Jacksonville police: 44 thefts reported over 5 months at River City Marketplace

By Lauren Verno - Consumer investigative reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Five people are accused in a five-month-long retail theft ring at a popular Jacksonville shopping center, according to police records.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said it counted a total of 44 thefts between March and August, with a total loss of more than $67,000, at stores at the River City Marketplace on the Northside near the Jacksonville International Airport.

"We don’t give crooks enough credit for doing their due diligence and figuring out how they can steal from you and how they can rob you. This is how these rings become successful until they’re caught," said News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson.

A 22-page police report obtained by News4Jax is heavily redacted as far as which stores were hit, but one of the 11 stores was named Best Buy. 

According to the report, nearly $3,000 worth of Fitbit watches were stolen March 30 from a store. Days later, the report shows, a loss prevention officer stopped suspects attempting to steal $650 worth of Fitbit watches, but the store let the suspects go.

"Sometimes, retailers figure they don’t want the hassle. They don’t want the problem of going to court and testifying and doing all those things," Jefferson said.

Among the items listed as stolen in the report were perfume bottles, sunglasses, computers and vacuums. In fact, the report shows, there were at least 13 incidents in which vacuums were stolen. 

Three people -- 34-year-old Michael Johnson, 35-year-old Pawnee Fort and 28-year-old Michelle Corbin --  were arrested on felony charges. They were in the Duval County jail as of Tuesday. Two others are listed as suspects on the police report, but it's unclear whether they've been arrested. 

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photos of Michael Johnson, Pawnee Fort and Michelle Corbin

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