A man behind at least three robberies using fireworks as a distraction to rob jewelry stores at major Florida malls has been arrested in South Carolina, according to law enforcement officials.
Kevin Pena Triana, 22, was being held in a Greenville, South Carolina, jail. It was not immediately clear if he would be extradited to Florida.
Sunrise police on Monday said Triana — and another individual who has not been identified — was behind a New Year's Eve robbery at Sawgrass Mills Mall that sent people running. Orange County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Joe Cavelli said in a Facebook post that Triana was also arrested in connection with an April 8 incident at Florida Mall. Late Monday, Miami-Dade police said Triana was also behind a robbery at Dadeland Mall earlier this month.
"We're happy to get him off the street," Cavelli said.
On Dec. 31, 2017, Sunrise Police Department was flooded with 911 calls reporting that shots had been fired at Sawgrass, 12801 W. Sunrise Blvd.
"Once on scene, officers determined it was not gunfire heard but fireworks and a smoke bomb were set off in front of the Zale's Jewelry store, next to a trash bin," a detective wrote in Triana's Sunrise arrest affidavit.
The distraction came just as, "A Hispanic male was trying on a Rolex watch, valued at $11,400," the detective said.
The man then left with the watch.
"Officers determined this was a well-planned distraction theft," the detective wrote. "The incident caused the mall to be shut down for an extended period of time and directly affected the business within the mall."
According to the affidavit, detectives from Orange and Miami-Dade counties reached out to them about similar incidents.
"I reviewed the video surveillance and pictures obtained by these departments and the Hispanic male appeared to be the same person that committed the distraction theft at Zales in Sunrise," the detective wrote. "He wore similar clothing and physically matched the description of the male that committed the theft in Sunrise."
On April 8, patrons were sent scrambling when what sounded like gunshots rang out at Florida Mall in Orlando. The sheriff's office said the sound was actually fireworks and they were used as a distraction to rob Mayors Fine Jewelry.
On April 15, there was a similar incident at Dadeland Mall. This time a thief made away with a "high-priced" watch from Mayors Jewelers, police said. Miami-Dade police said in a release Monday night that Triana was identified as the robber and charges were pending.
The Sunrise detective said in the affidavit that he received a call from a pawn shop about a man trying to sell a Rolex. The shop didn't accept it, the detective said, because "the owner thought he recognized this male from one of the recent crime stoppers segments..."
The shop also told the detective that the same man had previously pawned a Rolex, according to the report.
The detective also said in the report that the serial number of the Rolex taken from Florida Mall matched the one the man tried to pawn.
Detectives soon were able to track Triana from the pawn slip. according to the report.
Det. Cavelli said after the Florida Mall robbery, Triana and his associate headed to South Florida with a stolen Rolex.
The Sheriff's Office said it was able to compile a name, picture lineup and get positive identifications from victims in the store.
Orange County issued arrest warrants and with the help of law enforcement partners tracked Triana to Greenville, where he was arrested.
"He was actually casing other businesses, other jewelry stores in South Carolina," he said.