Police in Brooklyn have arrested a group of six men who pulled off a 20-month long scheme to defraud retail stores out of thousands of dollars of merchandise. According to police, the men conspired together to organize an intricate operation that lasted from April 2022 to December of 2023.
First, the men stole vehicles with a total estimated value of $300,000 from Hertz Global Holdings and other companies. They’d claim that they were going to rent the vehicles, but eventually, they’d go on to steal them. The men would then use these stolen cars to drive over to stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot.
Once at the store, they’d steal various types of merchandise. In particular, the group seemed to target Lutron lighting products. After getting the goods, they’d use the stolen cars to transport the merchandise along the East Coast.
After realizing the operation was successful and easily repeatable, the group had a formula to use. They allegedly repeated the same scheme at least 130 times in 13 different states. In all, it’s believed that the group targeted at least 71 Lowe’s branches and 59 Home Depot stores. 21 of the stores they went after were in the Eastern District of New York.
The following men were arrested and charged for their participation in the scam: Christopher World, Von Vincent, William Harvin, Lovell Ambrister, Trent Dance, and Hassen Lewis. All the men are from the Bronx and Brooklyn. They were each charged with interstate transportation of stolen property. If convicted, then each suspect could face up to ten years in prison.
They could each face additional prison time for other charges they’re facing too, including conspiracy to commit theft, which carries a five year prison sentence.
Shoplifting and Retail Theft in Brooklyn: What to Know
Have you been accused of shoplifting or retail theft? According to multiple news reports, retail theft is on the rise nationwide, so stores are pursuing more serious criminal charges against patrons they suspect are stealing. Here in Brooklyn, the severity of the charges levied against you in a shoplifting situation will depend on the total value of the merchandise that was allegedly taken.
When the property is worth $1,000 or less, the charges are considered Petit Larceny, which is a misdemeanor. The maximum sentence for this type of crime is one year in jail. When the property is worth $1,000 to more than $3,000, then the charges are considered either criminal possession of stolen property or grand larceny, both of which are felony offenses. These types of crimes could carry a sentence of up to seven years in jail.
It’s also possible to get charged with burglary if you get caught shoplifting at a store, get told not to return, and then you do return to the location. This crime carries a possible seven year prison sentence.
If you’ve been charged with a crime, then your best option is to contact a criminal defense attorney to help you come up with a solid defense strategy. Schedule a call with our team now to discuss your current situation with one of our lawyers today.