The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is proud to announce that the Organized Retail Theft Working Group and the Auto Theft Task Force will become permanent squads at our agency.

The decision comes after their outstanding success in arresting criminals and dismantling major criminal enterprises.

These task forces were initially established as specialized units to address the rising concerns related to auto theft and retail theft in the county. In less than one year, both squads have met and exceeded expectations, proving their efficiency in combating these crimes.

Since their inception, both groups have achieved remarkable results:

The Auto Theft Task Force was assembled in July 2023. In 2023, the task force worked 351 investigations. The unit investigated auto thefts, the failure to return rental vehicles, vehicle burglaries, criminal mischief, frauds, and search warrants, and assisted other agencies with their cases.

As of December 31, 2023, there is a 33% clearance rate of auto theft cases. The national clearance rate in 2022 was 9.2%.

Since the implementation of the HCSO Auto Theft Task Force, HCSO recorded a 28% decline in auto thefts when compared to the same timeframe in 2022.

The Organized Retail Theft Working Group was established in May 2023. This unit focuses on organized theft groups and working with retailers to assist with identifying, deterring, and arresting these groups.

The Organized Retail Theft Working Group investigated 374 thefts in 2023.

Between the store operations and the individual cases in 2023, the working group ended the year with a total of 140 arrests, with 312 felony charges and 112 misdemeanor charges.

In 2023, more than $82,000 worth of stolen property was recovered thanks to the efforts of the Organized Retail Theft Working Group.

"With their newly permanent status, the Auto Theft Squad and Retail Theft Squad will continue to build on their incredible accomplishments, further strengthening their impact on crime prevention and law enforcement efforts in our county," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "As Sheriff, I look forward to the continued success of these squads as they play a pivotal role in maintaining the safety and well-being of our Hillsborough County residents."

The Public Affairs Office will release all further information on this new initiative.

News article: Auto Theft and Retail Theft Task Forces Become Permanent Squads | HCSO, Tampa, FL (