Working in conjunction with the State Wide Narcotics Task force, Waterbury, Connecticut detectives revealed that they have uncovered a major organized retail crime operation involving hundreds of thousands of dollars of stolen retail merchandise that was being stored at a local warehouse. Authorities say that they have served search warrants at two warehouses and a personal home, and they are currently looking for other locations tied to the organized retail crime operation.
Deputy Chief Fernando Spagnolo of the Waterbury Police Department states that a 45-foot long semi tractor-trailer had to be brought in to load up the evidence from the stolen merchandise distribution operation, including clothing, over the counter prescription medication, personal hygiene products, designer handbags, electronics, bedding and numerous shelves filled with tagged merchandise from many different retail stores. Police claim that the perpetrators were running the warehouse as a distribution center for the stolen products, and the merchandise was being sold as part of an online fencing operation. Police also seized a Taser, and a loaded .380 caliber handgun.
Sorrell Porter, 25, who was a target of the investigation, was arrested on scene charged with criminal possession of a pistol or revolver, illegal possession of a controlled narcotic, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, criminal possession of a dangerous weapon, and illegal possession of fireworks. The investigation is ongoing and further charges are expected to be brought against Porter, as well as arrest warrants for others connected with the organized retail crime operation. Police say they believe this could be just “the tip of the iceberg” and could be part of an even larger theft operation.
Authorities are currently working to categorize and inventory the mass amount of stolen merchandise recovered, and have requested the assistance of The Home Depot, Stop and Shop, CVS, Walgreens, TJ Maxx, and other retailers to help identify the rightful owners of the stolen products. Additional stolen merchandise recovered included construction equipment and fireworks.
While hundreds of thousands of dollars of merchandise was uncovered, perhaps one of the most valuable recoveries involved Christmas trees that were stolen from children at the Saints Peter and Paul School that were being sold as part of a fundraiser for the school. The local program had been devastated by the thefts, as thieves targeted the biggest, most expensive trees.
“All the profit goes back to the school,” said Linda Galvin, the school’s advancement director. “It helps our children with the after-school program, our science lab, and our computer lab.”
“I couldn’t believe anybody would do that, especially the time of year. Right after Thanksgiving and into the Christmas season,” said teacher Bart Cammarasana.
The stolen Christmas trees have been collected and returned to the school by the Waterbury Police Department.