Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade police dismantle crate-stealing crime ring, 20 people arrested

An eight-month investigation into missing plastic crates from retail stores across Miami-Dade County ended Thursday with the arrest of 20 people, police said.

Daniel Ferrin, a spokesman for Miami-Dade police, said the theft ring managed to steal more than $1.5 million worth of plastic crates used to carry milk and bread from stores, including Publix.

“They have a route and go all over the county,” he said.

The 20 people face charges of criminal racketeering and other civil violations.

Ferrin said the investigation began after the retailers banded together and hired a private investigator. With information from the private investigator, Miami-Dade's Economics Bureau, with the help of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, found that thousands of crates were being stolen daily.

The crates were then taken to grinders and plastic was delivered to recycling centers in exchange for cash, police said.

Carli Teproff: 305-376-3587, @CTeproff