Retail chains in the Big Apple apparently need to step their security up. A shoplifting ring is accused with taking almost $4 million dollars worth of merchandise.
As per Gothamist a crew of over 40 individuals are being investigated for organizing a thievery cartel. On Thursday, May 26 New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced the takedown of a massive retail theft operation in New York City that stole and resold millions of dollars in goods. As outlined in the indictment unsealed that day, 41 people were charged for their roles in this crime ring that stole luxury clothing and goods and thousands of items from drug stores that were then resold on eBay.
During the three-year joint investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the NYPD’s Grand Larceny Division, law enforcement seized more than $3.8 million worth of stolen retail items from the enterprise’s alleged boss, Roni Rubinov, more than 550 stolen gift and cash cards, and more than $300,000 in cash. The defendants are being charged with various counts of enterprise corruption, money laundering, criminal possession of stolen property, scheme to defraud and conspiracy.
“Today’s takedown of this massive retail theft operation is part of our continued efforts to combat crime and restore an environment where all New Yorkers feel secure,” said Attorney General James. “These individuals stole millions of dollars in luxury goods and cleared the shelves of drug stores in the communities we live and resold these goods for great profit. We will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to crackdown on crime and protect all our communities.”
“Today we are showing that New York City will not tolerate crime — street crime, retail crime, or organized crime,” said Mayor Adams. “Public safety is the prerequisite to prosperity, and so we want to be clear that we will investigate, arrest, and prosecute criminals when they break the law. This wasn’t just shoplifting, but people going into stores and clearing off shelves as part of an organized crime ring. This massive retail-theft scheme affected every level of our economy, from department stores to big chains to independent businesses — all of whom were already impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to thank Attorney General James for her partnership, the NYPD, and all our partners for working to make New York safer, stronger, and more prosperous.”
OCTF and the NYPD seized the following stolen goods:
- Designer clothing, handbags, belts, and shoes,
- Over the counter medications,
- Miscellaneous drug store items,
- Tools and electronics,
- More than 550 gift cards from approximately 60 different retailers, including Amazon, Home Depot, Walgreens, Visa, Apple iTunes, Modell’s, Lowe’s, Kmart, American Express, and Pottery Barn.
OCTF and NYPD also seized approximately $300,000 from Rubinov’s residence, stash house, and business locations. Through electronic and physical surveillance, analysis of financial records, and other investigative tools, OCTF found that since 2017, Rubinov, Yuriy Khodzhandiyev and Rafik Israilov, Rubinov’s alleged managers, have been directing career larcenists (boosters) to steal specific merchandise and gift cards from retailers. Rubinov and his managers then purchased the stolen goods for fractions of the retail price and resold them for profit on an eBay store called Treasure-Deals-USA.
The boosters brought stolen property to Rubinov’s New Liberty Loans Pawn Shop, located at 67 W 47th Street and to Romanov Gold Buyers Inc., located at 71 W 47th Street, Suite 402A. Rubinov employees (Akasya Yasaroglu, Lyudmila Yushuvayev A/K/A “Lyudmila Yadegar” A/K/A “Ludi”, Zamira Shaganova, Erica Zambrano, and Ramdass Ramkissoon A/K/A “Paulie”) then purchased stolen clothing items for six-to-eight percent of their retail value and stolen pharmaceutical items and cosmetics at the rate of one-to-two dollars per item, depending on the brand. Rubinov regularly provided his employees with cash to pay for the stolen property, which was allocated to promote the ongoing procurement of stolen property.
Once the stolen property was purchased by Rubinov or his employees, it was stored at one of the locations in midtown Manhattan. It was then regularly transported by Fathi Negadi to Rubinov’s residence and Rubinov’s stash house, both located in Fresh Meadows, Queens. Ana Balaceanu, Fathi Negadi, Caroline Gallego, and Patrice Collins inventoried and organized the stolen property at the stash locations in Queens. Balaceanu, Yasaroglu, Collins, and Gallego then posted the stolen property for resale on Rubinov’s Treasure-Deals-USA eBay store. Once the posted items were purchased, they were transported back to 71 W 47th Street to be packaged and subsequently shipped to Rubinov’s eBay customers.
The indictment charged the suspects with Enterprise Corruption, Money Laundering in the First Degree, and other crimes in relation to their involvement in the organized retail theft and fencing operation. Each defendant, if convicted, faces up to 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.