Following an extensive investigation into an organized retail crime operation, police executed eight different search warrants to include a home, garage, vehicle and three storage facilities in southeast Calgary. When the dust cleared and the seizure of goods was completed, Inspector Nancy Farmer was at a loss when attempting to describe the incredible volume of stolen property obtained from the reported organized retail crime arrest.
“It is astronomical when you start to look at the amount of merchandise that was there,” Farmer said. “It’s just insurmountable—the list is endless.”
One man is in custody and more arrests are expected after police seized a massive stash of stolen property, with enough goods to fill five semi-trailers to capacity. Police are using a conservative estimate of $1.5 million in terms of the value of property discovered, but Farmer said it could actually be more than $2 million. Much of the merchandise is believed to have been stolen from Calgary area retailers over the past 18 months. The seizure of stolen goods is believed to be one of the largest ever in Calgary.
Cody William Scott, a 28-year-old Calgary man, has been charged with several counts of possession of stolen property worth more than $5,000. Police are considering additional charges and expect to make more arrests.
“The property seizure appears to be a textbook example of organized retail crime,” said Constable Lara Sampson with the CPS Organized Retail Crime Team. “Most of the goods were new, in boxes, in packaging with retail tags, and they were taken directly from commercial break-and-enters or sophisticated organized retail shoplifting.”
The stolen goods included items including sporting goods, clothing, handbags, video games, shoes and boots, beauty products, home and industrial appliances, and artwork. Snow blowers, hot water heaters, a log splitter and a tanning bed were also among the products seized. Officers are still working to compile a full inventory.
“The theft of consumer goods for the purpose of illegally selling that merchandise is being exchanged for cash or drugs. This is where our investigations are leading us,” Sampson said. “The goods are usually taken through very systematic setups…organized retail crime is a sophisticated bunch of people who have jobs and responsibilities on how to steal the property, how to categorize it, how to move it and how to ultimately get rid of it.”
Authorities would not disclose what investigators believe the operation had planned to do with the mass amount of stolen goods, because the case is now before the courts.
Organized retail crime is a growing concern in Calgary, police say. These operations involve many players, each with different roles: some distract retail staff while others make off with goods. Others store and ultimately sell the products through online fencing operations or in flea markets, while some products end up in repacking operations, or even on the black market.
“When you buy that (stolen) product, you’re contributing to crime.” Sampson said. “You’re contributing to the laundering of money; you’re contributing to the drugs that are happening in your area, because that’s who is moving that product.”