FORT MYERS — A traffic stop on Interstate 75 ended with the arrest of three South Florida men accused of going on a shoplifting spree. Deputies said they discovered a van full of more than $17,000 in stolen merchandise with the anti-shoplifting devices still attached.
Lee County deputies conducted a traffic stop Thursday on a Nissan van for following too closely and conducting an improper lane change. The Nissan exited the highway and pulled over on westbound Palm Beach Boulevard. Henry Leonard Veramendi, 48, gave the deputy a fake ID, according to the arrest report. The deputy spotted numerous white garbage bags full of new clothes with the price tags and anti-shoplifting devices , according to the arrest report.
During a search of the vehicle, deputies located a Florida ID that belonged to Veramendi hidden in the headliner above the driver's seat.
The investigation revealed Veramendi and both passengers have a history of shoplifting crime. Detectives believe they were traveling the Interstae from the Fort Myers area to the Miami area. According to reports, a search of the vehicle produced approximately 400 pieces of stolen clothing and two high quality "booster bags" made with the sole intent of defeating store security systems.
The recovered property was valued at $17,305.49.
According to the Lee County Sheriff's Office, outlet stores including Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica and Calvin Klein appear to have been targeted.
Veramendi, of Miami, is facing charges of driving while license suspended third offense, two counts of possession of anti-shoplifting devices, giving a false name to law enforcement, and possession of a fraudulent driver's license.
Juan Carlos Echeverry, 47, of Doral, and Ricardo A. Hidalgo, 55, of Hialeah, are both facing two counts possession of anti-shoplifting devices.