Mar 22, 2013 12:21 PM by Tony Spehar - firstname.lastname@example.org
Police say four-months of undercover work investigating a major theft rind lead to the arrest of seven people after raids by officers from multiple agencies at locations across El Paso County on Friday.
Investigators say the ring centered at the Just Computers store at 2506 East Platte Avenue, officers said they found thousands of stolen items that were being sold from the store and online.
"Electronics, tools were a big thing, power tools, electronics, vacuum cleaners, keurig coffee makers," described Lt. Mark Comte of the Colorado Springs Police Department. "Anything that you would see on eBay for sale that you could get at a discount."
Just Computers owner Clay Schaner was one of the people arrested on Friday, he allegedly made over $1.3-million selling stolen goods on eBay. Police say Schaner was one of the leaders of the theft ring and his store served as a depository for hundreds of shoplifters to unload goods stolen from local retail stores like Target or Home Depot.
"The store itself created a motivator for individuals to go out and commit theft knowing that they had somewhere they could take the property, get money for it quickly, not asked any questions," Lt. Comte explained.
Investigators also arrested Shaner's son Clinton as well as Caleb Butler, Tommie Bradley and James Driscoll among others. All are facing a felony charge associated with organized crime and numerous other charges.
"They're also facing and have been arrested on money laundering, theft receiving, weapons charges and other theft charges," described District Attorney Dan May.
Organized theft crime (ORC) is a continuing problems that costs businesses and communities across the United States over $20-billion a year.
"Colorado ranks twenty-second for ORC losses at just under $1.5-billion annually," described President Chris Howes of the Colorado Retail Council.
The theft ring also allegedly had members who would steal from one retail chain location and then return it at another to receive a refund. They're also suspected to have dealt in stolen gift certificates and credit cards.
"We will continue to investigate other businesses involved in buying stolen credit cards knowing that they are stolen," explained Chief Peter Carey of the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Investigators are still looking for members of the organized teams of shoplifters who supplied the stolen goods, they estimate up to 200 people may have been a part of the theft ring.