Outlet mall shoplifting ring busted by Orange Co. deputies

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County sheriff’s detectives broke up a shoplifting ring they said hit stores in Orlando Premium Outlet malls.

Investigators said a team of five thieves made off with thousands of dollars in store gift cards – but made a mistake that helped deputies catch them.

The ring was ripping off stores such as Coach, Rockport, Nine West and American Eagle.

Investigators said the man in charge, or "hustle man," as his team called him, was Kenneth Dent -- a man with a long criminal history.

One thief went into a store with a shopping bag, filled it with merchandise and walked out. Another member took the bag back into the same store on the same day, claimed the receipt was lost and requested a refund.

The store then gave out store credit.

One employee became suspicious because her store is the only location that sells the type of shoes a thief was trying to return.

The store hadn't sold any of the shoes yet.

Investigators tracked down one thief with her Florida driver's license information. She gave it to a sales clerk at the time of the return, leading investigators to Dent.

Orlando resident Bruce Lampkins said shoplifting is a crime that costs everyone.

"It's a crime against us," Lampkins said. "That's why we have to pay so much."

Detectives are still investigating exactly how the ring used the store credits.