Rolando Coca, 55, the reputed head of a Miami crime family, allegedly drove to a Tampa McDonald's restaurant midway through the 10-hour heist of U.S. military contractor iGov Technologies Inc., and the restaurant's security camera recorded his face, red Lincoln Navigator and the sport utility vehicle's license plate, Hillsborough County, Fla., Sheriff David Gee said.
"That's really one of the things that broke the case for us," Gee said at a news conference.
FBI officials already investigating Coca in connection with other cargo thefts immediately recognized him on the video and arrested him in the Miami area Jan. 25, Gee said, The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reported.
Coca allegedly masterminded the March 6 heist, in which two men climbed a ladder, cut a hole in iGov's roof, rappelled two stories down into the warehouse and cut the security systems, Gee said.
About 10 people who later arrived for the overnight burglary started loading the laptops into two semitrailer trucks that later headed for Miami, a popular hub for stolen cargo, he said.
"This was very choreographed and conducted at a very high skill level," Gee said. "They've obviously done this before."
Authorities recovered nearly 2,000 laptops, worth about $4.7 million, in an abandoned Miami warehouse and found other computers in smaller quantities on the eBay online auction Web site and Amazon.com.
The FBI separately arrested suspect Emil Benitez in a sting shortly after the alleged robbery when agents set up a deal to pay $50,000 for some of the laptops, the Times reported.
Benitez was sentenced to two years in federal prison in August.
The laptops contained no sensitive information, military officials said.