Thieves steal phones at Tortuga Music Festival, police say

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Police officers recovered 24 phones they believe thieves stole from country music fans at The Tortuga Beach Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Officers arrested Wilson Garson, 23, Piter Japol, 27, and Yesica Castellanos, 28, on Saturday night, accusing them of pickpocketing phones at the festival.

Melody Sipe, of Pittsburgh, said her focus was on the musicians on stage when a tall man behind her removed her iPhone from her back pocket. She felt it and quickly turned around.

“Too easy to do, they just slipped it right out,” Sipe said Sunday.

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department warned officers arrested three suspects who had stolen phones from fans at the Tortuga Music Festival.

Officers had returned 18 out of the 24 phones by Sunday morning.

Garson, Japol and Castellanos are facing grand theft charges.

“Security staff and police have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone victimizing festival attendees,” a Fort Lauderdale Police Department spokesperson wrote on Twitter Sunday.

Police officers recover phones thieves stole at the Tortuga Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale. (FLPD)

The festival sold out. Nelly, Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs, Sublime with Rome, and Thomas Rhett were just a few of the performers on stage. Officers blocked off sections of the beach along Seabreeze Boulevard for the event that began on Friday and ran from noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

Officers recover phones thieves stole at the Tortuga Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale. (FLPD)

For more information about the Tortuga Music Festival, visit this page. archives

April 8, 6 p.m. report.

The festival is sold out and tens of thousands of people have come from all over the country to enjoy the biggest names in country music.

Local 10 News Assignment Desk Editor Aura Martinez contributed to this report.

About the Authors:

Bridgette Matter joined the Local 10 News team as a reporter in July 2021. Before moving to South Florida, she began her career in South Bend, Indiana and spent six years in Jacksonville as a reporter and weekend anchor.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.