Yanderi Soto and Edgar Portela of Broward County, Florida were arrested Tuesday for habitually stealing toys and children’s clothes from a number of area toy stores, news sources report. Soto, 30, and Portela, 30, were booked into the Broward County Main Jail on charges of criminal conspiracy and organized scheme to defraud. Soto’ bail bond was set at $30,000; Portela’s bail was set at $15,000. It is not yet known whether the defendants have hired a criminal defense lawyer.
According to reports, this is not the first time Soto and Portela have been arrested. Soto and Portela have previously been charged with fraud, grand theft, and burglary, sources indicate. The details of those charges were not immediately apparent at press time.
Surveillance footage first captured the defendants committing the alleged thefts in October, reports indicate. Sources say Soto and Portela regularly went to stores such as Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us in Miami-Dade and Broward counties with their children in tow. The duo would purchase expensive and popular children’s toys and clothes, pay for the items, and leave the store.
The defendants would return to the store at a later time with the receipts from the earlier purchases, find the items they had bought on the stores’ shelves, and then take those items to the service counter. There, the duo would allegedly return the items using the old receipts, receiving refunds for purchases they hadn’t actually returned. According to reports, the defendants would sell the stolen items online. The defendants allegedly repeated this process over 50 times, stealing around $36,000 worth of children’s products.
Aided by detectives with Homeland Security and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office Organized Retail Crime Unit, police obtained arrest warrants for Soto and Portela on June 10. However, they were unable to locate the couple’s address. On Tuesday, security at a Babies ‘R’ Us in Pembroke Pines recognized the defendants as they came into the store and called police. Soto and Portela were subsequently arrested at that store, reports say. Temporary custody of Soto and Portela’s 10-month-old child and Soto’s 12-year-old son was given to the state.
In another sort of case, Corey Deon Palmer of Shalimar was arrested Sunday after he was found with an illegal amphetamine known by the street name “Molly” in his car, reports say. Palmer, 32, was booked into police custody on a charge of possession of amphetamines with intent to sell. It is unclear whether he qualified for bail or hired legal representation.
According to reports, the incident occurred on Sunday at the intersection of First Street and Ferry Road in Fort Walton Beach. A police officer pulled up next to Palmer’s Mercury at the intersection. Palmer exited the car and reportedly asked the officer, “Is it OK that I park here?” The officer immediately noted that “[Palmer] reeked of smoked marijuana,” reports say.
The officer informed Palmer of the smell, ad Palmer allegedly indicated there was a “little bit” of marijuana inside his car. The officer searched Palmer’s Mercury and found a cigarette box containing the amphetamine, reports say.