A 49-year-old man was arrested on April 3 in Jersey City, and accused of being the ringleader of a group engaged in a series of thefts at Home Depot stores in New Jersey and nearby states. Two alleged accomplices were also charged with theft, but were already incarcerated on other charges. Police are still seeking two other individuals who they claim were part of the suspected theft ring, and have warrants for their arrests.

The group allegedly targeted 70 Home Depot stores in the region, according to police accusations. Law enforcement reports claimed that the accused carried out thefts at several stores daily, taking merchandise from self-checkout registers in the stores and stealing items worth several hundreds of dollars in many instances by simply ringing up a lower price.

Losses at the store, police asserted, totaled over $100,000 from around 500 such incidents. The arrests and issuance of the arrest warrants followed an investigation by the store itself in cooperation with the U.S. Secret Service and the N. J. Division of Criminal Justice. The accused are all citizens of South or Central American countries who currently live in Hudson County.

Police asserted that members of the suspected theft ring carried out operations on over 150 days in a six month recent period, visiting multiple Home Depot stores on each day. Investigators contended that they carried off expensive items of merchandise after failing to properly scan them in the self-checkout lanes of the store. Sometimes, these actions were supposedly concealed by a second member of the accused group doing acts designed to distract a store employee’s attention away from the cash registers.

Charges against the five men include shoplifting and second degree conspiracy. If convicted, they could face a sentence of between five and 10 years in prison.

Source: NJTODAY.com “Authorities Arrest Alleged Leader Of Theft Ring That Targeted Home Depot Stores,” April 6, 2012