WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Investigators tracked down and captured four members of an international crime ring after they committed crimes in Walton County, deputies said Wednesday.
The suspects were charged with grand theft of more than $1 million in retail value of stolen jewelry in Walton County Thursday.
According to a news release by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, investigators have been searching for suspects involved in stealing more than $1 million of jewelry from a store on 30A on April 11. Three individuals, two females, and one male, entered and fled in a black SUV following the theft.
A WCSO investigator that responded recognized the suspects from a prior case he worked on in December 2022, noting that they were involved in a “sleight-of-hand” theft of a Rolex from a Miramar Beach jeweler.
A week after the theft on 30A, the black SUV was reportedly abandoned at a business on Serenoa Road in Santa Rosa Beach. Investigators were able to speak to a woman who gave the suspects a ride from the area, one of the suspects using their phone to communicate with after dropping them off.
After receiving a warrant to track the number, the WCSO connected to the New York Police Department and a police officer in the United Kingdom who confirmed that the group of suspects was part of a Romanian criminal network with more than 1400 members and warrants in more than half a dozen states.
The suspects were identified as George Pawn, 31, Stela Sava, 26, Terca Tarnovan, 31, and Vasile Lacatus, 27, all Romanian nationals.
On Monday, April 24, the tracked cell phone number belonging to Vasile led the investigators to a home in St. Charles, Mo.
All four were located, arrested, and charged with grand theft over $20,000, grand theft in concert with one or more persons for the Rolex theft in 2022.
Sava, Tarnovan, and Lacatus also have warrants for grand theft over $100,000, grand theft in concert with one more person for stealing merchandise at the store on 30A.