HERNANDO COUNTY, FL – According to authorities, over the course of a week, numerous incidents of stolen fireworks were reported throughout Hernando County. The retail thefts and one structure burglary occurred between June 27, 2021 and July 3, 2021. Detectives with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office worked quickly to identify the two suspects later identified as Joseph Blahous, 26, and Nicole Cawthron, 30.
The initial incident occurred on June 27, 2021 at Rural King, located at 2468 Commercial Way, in Spring Hill. A couple later identified as Blahous and Cawthron were observed stealing a drill from the store. On June 28, 2021, suspects matching Blahous and Cawthron’s descriptions were observed stealing fireworks from Patriotic Fireworks located at 13251 Cortez Boulevard.
On July 3, 2021, employees observed the couple stealing fireworks from TNT Fireworks located at 13100 Cortez Boulevard. Also on July 3, 2021, a report was received that two individuals later identified as Blahous and Cawthron had forced entry into a TNT Fireworks tent located at 1485 Commercial Way and stole more than $1,000 worth of fireworks from the business. The couple then went to a Patriotic Fireworks tent located at 3085 Commercial Way where they stole about $600 worth of fireworks.
On July 4, 2021, deputies located Blahous and Cawthron sleeping in a vehicle parked at 2384 Commercial Way. Deputies observed a large quantity of new fireworks inside the vehicle and The detained the suspects at the scene. Following questioning, Blahous and Cawthron were arrested on four counts of Felony Retail Theft and one count of Burglary. Cawthron was also charged with Possession of Methamphetamine and Violation of Probation.
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Both suspects were charged with an additional count of Retail Theft in connection with a June 10, 2021 incident where the couple stolen more than $1,200 in jewelry from a Walmart. Additionally, Blahous was charged with Dealing on Stolen Property and Defrauding a Pawnbroker for selling the stolen jewelry. Blahous and Cawthron were transported to the Hernando County Detention Center. Blahous’ bond was set at $24,000, while Cawthron is being held on a no bond status due to her Violation of Probation charge.