Suspected cell phone thief identified

CREATED Feb 28, 2014

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - Several tips to Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers led to the identification of a suspect of a cell phone thief who used her baby to cloak her crime.

Esmeralda Espinosa turned herself into the Lee County Jail early this afternoon.  She has been charged with grand theft, as well as an additional outstanding bench warrant from 2011 for failing to show up in court on another theft case. 

Upon speaking with a detective from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Espinosa gave a full confession to her role in the crime.
Crime Stoppers thanks our local media outlets for their assistance in putting Espinosa’s picture before the public’s eye, and to the tipsters who identified her.

Surveillance cameras caught Espinosa using a baby as a shield to disguise the theft of a cell phone.

The victim was shopping at Once Upon a Child at 11800 S. Cleveland Avenue around noon last Thursday, February 20th. 

After paying for her purchases, she left the store, inadvertently leaving her phone behind.  Within seconds, Espinosa, carrying a young baby, slides over to the cart, and picks up the phone and tucks it behind the baby, then covering it up further with a blanket. 

When the phone’s rightful owner returned to the store moments later to retrieve her phone, it was nowhere to be found.