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The Dangers of Cargo Theft and How Stolen Food Products Make Their Way Into Restaurants and Stores

In Florida, there are several types of thefts that could get a thief thrown into jail for a significant amount of time. Most recently, a lesser-known but dangerous type of theft has come to light and has been impacting Floridians’ health: cargo theft. Cargo theft is the act of targeting commercial vehicles carrying products with the intent to rob the vehicle and resell to other buyers or to the black market. Florida established in 2001 the Florida Commercial Vehicle and Cargo Theft Task Force in response to losing annually between $90-$100 million in stolen commodities. Though the task force has helped to curb cargo theft in Florida, it is still a significant issue, especially when stolen commodities reenter the market and purchased by unsuspecting individuals. According to CargoNet, in 2015, more than $175 million worth of cargo was stolen around the country and almost 30 percent of that was comprised of food and beverages.

Seafood Theft and Its Dangerous Effects on the Market Place

According to NBC Miami, Florida is one of the biggest hotspots for cargo theft of seafood, largely because seafood is easy to unload on the market. In past criminal prosecutions, one individual convicted admitted to lying that his refrigerator truck broke down with the seafood spoilage as a result; the story went on that the driver of the truck told superiors that he threw away the commodities in the garbage, but in reality resold it to any takers, especially those who purchasing food to be used in their restaurants or stores.

What makes cargo theft of seafood so dangerous is the perishable nature of the product itself. Men and women who are in the seafood theft business are less likely to worry about food safety consumer standards, the correct temperature that the seafood should be stored, and how long the product can safely last before being consumed. From several reports, many restaurants may not know from where exactly their seafood is coming, only that their distributor has given them a deal on their products, which is not usually a red flag to restaurant owners, thus making it more difficult to ascertain when food products are stolen or legitimate. It is possible that if there is strong enough evidence to prove that fenced stolen food harmed, endangered, or killed unknowing consumers, these cargo thieves may be convicted for the effect that their resale had on their victims.

Florida on Theft, Grand Theft, and Sentencing Guidelines for Violators

According to Florida statute, the guidelines for sentencing surrounding theft depend on what has been stolen and the value of the stolen commodities. According criminal statute, a person who steals cargo that has a value of more than $50,000 which has entered the consumer market, regardless of interstate or intrastate commerce, will be convicted of grand theft in the first degree. Recently, five Floridians were arrested in February of 2016 of grand theft in the first degree for the cargo theft of more than $1.2 million; if convicted they will each face up to 30 years in prison for each count of which they might be convicted. Currently, the five men are facing multiple counts of grand theft of $50,000 (or more), and for conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

If you or a loved one has been arrested for grand theft, it is important to speak with an experienced defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik, as the sentences related to these crimes are harsh and could lead to a life sentence. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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