Multistate Home Depot theft ring busted, prosecutors announce www.privateofficer.com
Trenton New Jersey April 9 2012 New Jersey’s Attorney General announced the arrests today of a ringleader and two associates in a Home Depot theft ring that targeted about 70 stores in the Mid-Atlantic area.
The following men were arrested:
•Julio Arriola Suarez, 49, of West New York, aka Jimmy R. Alcivar, the alleged leader of the retail theft ring, was arrested April 3 in Jersey City. He is being held in Morris County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bail.
•David Pulgarin, 28, formerly of Union City and West New York, was served with a warrant on April 2 at Lehigh County Prison in Allentown.
•Julio Duque Barahona, 30, was served with a warrant today at Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility in Brocton, N.Y.
Two arrest warrants were issued for:
•Nicolas Arriola Cortez, 48, formerly of Union City.
•Javier Duque Piza, 56, formerly of West New York.
Prosecutors said the men committed thefts at multiple stores per day in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, stealing hundreds of dollars in merchandise by “under-ringing” it through self-checkout areas.
They allegedly made more than 500 illegal transactions worth more than $100,000 in losses.
All five men are charged with second-degree crimes of conspiracy and shoplifting. Suarez also faces a second-degree charge of leading an organized retail theft enterprise. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
During a recent six-month period, the ring members allegedly committed thefts on more than 150 days, typically striking numerous Home Depot stores and stealing hundreds of dollars in merchandise each day.
The men would allegedly go through the self-checkout areas and not properly scan items. They allegedly would use various tactics to hide their “under-ringing” activity in the self-checkout area from security cameras and any employee assigned to the area. In some instances, a second ring member would distract the store employee.
“Organized retail theft is a growing problem in New Jersey and across the U.S. that retailers estimate costs them up to $30 billion a year,” N.J. Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said in a news release. “Our investigation uncovered a ring of foreign nationals (from Central and South America) who we allege were highly systematic and prolific in their thefts from Home Depot stores in New Jersey and five other states. They allegedly struck multiple stores on most days, and could rack up well over $1,000 a day in stolen goods.”
The charges resulted from an ongoing joint investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the United States Secret Service, and included help from the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office, Whitehall Police Department and Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office.