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 Turtle Beach MusicFestival, in Fort Lauderdale Beach.

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

Melody Sipe, of Pittsburgh, said her attention was on the musicians onstage when a tall man behind her pulled her iPhone out of her back pocket. She sensed it and quickly turned around.

“Too easy to do, they just slipped it in,” 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 of the 24 phones by Sunday morning.

Garson, Japol and Castellanos face grand theft charges.


“Security personnel and police have a zero tolerance policy for anyone who victimizes festival goers,” a spokesperson for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department 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 artists on stage.

Officers blocked off sections of the beach along Seabreeze Boulevard for the event that began Friday and will run from noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Drivers should expect delays along A1A and Seabreeze Boulevards and on Southeast 17th Street and Las Olas Boulevards. Road closures will also be in effect from 10:00 to 10:30 pm in both directions, from Harbor Drive to the southeast, as fans exit the event.

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

Attendees are encouraged to use a shared ride service to get to the event because there is no designated parking. To avoid fines, officials said it’s important to note that designated ride-sharing pick-up and drop-off areas are located at the Las Olas Marina at 240 Las Olas Circle.


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

Files of

Report of April 8, 6:00 p.m.:

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 Assignments Editor Aura Martinez contributed to this report.

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Thieves steal phones at Tortuga Music Festival, police say