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Chinatown Shops Allegedly Involved in Organized Retail Crime Operation

Following a 10-month investigation by Boston police, three employees of My-Tan Fashion and Super 99 Cents Plus, discount household goods and clothing stores in Chinatown, were arrested in connection with an organized retail crime scheme that involved the purchase and sale of more than $100,000 in stolen retail merchandise, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

Phuong Quach of Dorchester, Feng Deng of Quincy, and Cindy Tran of Malden were charged with receiving stolen property over $250, distributing counterfeit goods, and aggravated organized retail crime, according to reports. They were the first to be charged under the new organized retail crime statute that passed in April, 2015.

Quach, Deng and Tran are accused of knowingly purchasing cosmetics, toiletries, household goods, clothing and other items from shoplifters who were stealing the merchandise from retailers throughout the downtown area of Boston. In some cases, authorities claim the defendants were actively requesting that shoplifters steal particular items for them. Those items were then priced significantly lower than the original retail price—and in some instances below the wholesale price of the items if purchased through legitimate channels. They would then paste new prices directly over the sale price stamped on by the original retailers, and offer them for sale in the stores.

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“This isn’t a shoplifting case,” according to District Attorney Dan Conley. “This is the very reason the organized retail crime statute was signed into law. We allege that the defendants played a knowing role in the theft and unlawful resale of tens of thousands of dollars.”

During the course of the investigation, police apprehended multiple shoplifters who said they stole the items with the intent of reselling them to My-Tan Fashion.

“There’s been a history of shoplifters who have been stopped at places like CVS and Macy’s,” according to Assistant District Attorney Michele Granda. “Some of the shoplifters involved in the organized retail crime ring showed signs of drug addiction…When questioned about where it is they’re taking the product they say they’re taking it to My-Tan Fashion.”

In an interview with detectives, Quach allegedly said that she purchased stolen items from individuals who approached her, and that the inventory of My-Tan Fashion is made up almost exclusively of stolen retail goods, with the exception of a few items she buys in New York.

Investigators needed more than 10 hours to search the shop, seizing more than 5,000 pieces of merchandise valued at an estimated $100,000 as part of what has been dubbed “Operation Sunblock.” The merchandise seized included Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, beauty products, cookware, and batteries. There was no cash register, records, or paperwork detailing inventory orders or sales, according to authorities.

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In addition to stolen products, the store was also selling counterfeit Burberry and Coach handbags and wallets, according to the district attorney’s office.

Not-guilty pleas were entered on behalf of the suspects. They were released on bail after surrendering their passports and are due back in court January 25, 2016.

For more on the story and the new organized retail crime legislation, read the LP Magazine article, “Retailers Association of Massachusetts Praises New Organized Retail Crime Law” written by Ryan Kearney, General Counsel of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts by clicking here.

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