KISSIMMEE – Was the motive financial profit – or something else?
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office will have to sort that out if they can find the man who made a purchase at a local smoke shop, only to return to the store moments later to smash open the front counter and steal some more items.
Detectives are now asking for the public’s help in identifying the man who robbed the cigar shop in Kissimmee. They hope the job is made easier because of videos and still photos of the suspect that were taken by video surveillance cameras inside the store.
Those photos have been released to the media, and the sheriff’s office is asking anyone who can identify the suspect or who has information about this robbery to contact them immediately.
The investigation started on the July 4 holiday around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office got a call from the VIP Smoke Shop at 2071 E. Osceola Parkway in Kissimmee about a robbery that had just taken place there.
When deputies got to the store, an employee told them a man had walked into the store and made a purchase, then left. He wasn’t gone for long, though, the worker told deputies.
“Several minutes later he returned to the store, smashed the counter with a brick and took several items before leaving the store,” said Twis Lizasuain, public information officer for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, in her report on the case.
The store employee described the suspect as being a black male in his early 20’s, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, and weighing between 160 and 190 pounds. He was wearing a brown and white shirt with dark shoes and shorts.
Video surveillance cameras captured an image of the suspect in the store. Anyone with information on the suspect or this case is asked to call the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office at 407-348-2222 or Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS (8477). Calls made to Crimeline remain anonymous, and tips that lead to a felony arrest become eligible for cash rewards of up to $1,000.
Although smoke shops sell cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products, some of them also sell herbs labeled as potpourri, which is many instances are actually an imitation or synthetic form of marijuana known as K2 and Spice.
Numerous local counties have made a concerted effort to remove these products from store shelves in the past few years, starting in Polk County.
In October 2010, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announced he was cracking down on convenience stores throughout Polk County that market these products. The Polk County State Attorney’s office had agreed to press charges under a Florida statute prohibiting “imitation controlled substances.” It targets the sellers, distributors and manufacturers of products that “by express or implied representations, purport to act like” an illegal substance.
Last year, the Florida Legislature took action to ban the drugs, which have become virtually impossible to find in Polk County stores, and last fall Congress followed Polk County’s example and took similar aim at these products.
The Florida Poison Information Center has reported that between January and October, 374 overdoses, including two deaths, were linked to fake marijuana.
There are still challenges for local law enforcement and state policy makers. Drug manufacturers have stayed a step ahead of law enforcement by changing the chemical compounds in drugs like Spice and K2, by just enough to get around the bans.
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