An engineer at Florida Power and Light's Turkey Point nuclear power plant has been arrested in a bizarre three-day shoplifting spree last month at a Key Largo Publix during which he is accused of stealing $400 in groceries.
Monroe County Sheriff's Office investigators arrested David William DeFrancesco, 44, on a grand retail theft charge Oct. 4 at his Stillwright Point home. They were able to determine where he lived by running the license plate of the car Publix employees saw him leave in on the last day of his alleged theft.
DeFrancesco could not be reached for comment. He was released on $5,000 bond the day of his arrest.
According to a Sheriff's Office arrest report, DeFrancesco stole a wastepaper basket on Sept. 6 and filled it with items throughout the store at the Trade Winds Plaza. A Publix employee told police that DeFrancesco walked to the front of the store and acted like he was looking at greeting cards. He then exited quickly with the stolen goods.
DeFrancesco came back to the store on Sept. 9. This time he allegedly grabbed a blue mop bucket from a shelf and again filled it with items from throughout the store. He was being watched by a customer, who called Publix customer service the next day. Security camera footage reportedly shows DeFrancesco stealing the items.
According to the arrest report, DeFrancesco again acted like he was browsing greeting cards before leaving the store. He walked past the witness, who was entering the store as DeFrancesco was leaving. The customer became suspicious after allegedly seeing DeFrancesco carrying a mop bucket full of items.
By this time, Publix employees were on the lookout for the shoplifter. The next day around 4 p.m., a meat department manager reported to his boss, store manager Paul Bean, that a man fitting the shoplifter's description was back in the store filling another blue bucket with items off the shelves.
The meat department manager, Mike Wood, and Customer Service Manager Miguel Quinones kept an eye on the shoplifter, who apparently noticed the unwanted attention he was getting. According to the report, DeFrancesco ditched the mop bucket full of items on top of a shelf in the bread aisle and picked up a bag of dog food, which he paid for before leaving the store.
Sheriff's Office Deputy Sever Hustad went to DeFrancesco's 27 South Drive house. He wasn't home, but his wife was. She said her husband works the night shift at Turkey Point in Homestead and leaves at 4:30 p.m. While talking to DeFrancesco's wife, Hustad said in his report that he noticed a new bag of dog food sitting in a recycling bin next to the home's front door.
Some of the store employees identified DeFrancesco as the shoplifter from a photo provided by deputies. Investigators also said DeFrancesco was the man seen in the security camera footage leaving the store with the stolen goods.
Items stolen included computer printer cartridges, cellular phone electronics, gum, the mop buckets and wastepaper basket, a rotisserie chicken, rice and apples. In all, they amounted to $407.26.
According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, this isn't DeFrancesco's first run-in with the law. Deputies there arrested him in 1996 on a retail theft charge. He was released the same day on a cash bond.