charges resulted from an ongoing joint investigation
by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice
and the United States Secret Service, conducted
with assistance from the Home Depot Corporation.
The ring members are foreign nationals from
Central and South America who were based
in Hudson County, N.J.
retail theft is a growing problem in New
Jersey and across the U.S. that retailers
estimate costs them up to $30 billion a
year,” said Attorney General Chiesa.
“Our investigation uncovered a ring
of foreign nationals who we allege were
highly systematic and prolific in their
thefts from Home Depot stores in New Jersey
and five other states. They allegedly struck
multiple stores on most days, and could
rack up well over $1,000 a day in stolen
Division of Criminal Justice and U.S. Secret
Service formed a highly effective partnership
to track this wide-ranging criminal enterprise,
with help from Home Depot Corporation,”
said Stephen J. Taylor, Director of the
Division of Criminal Justice. “Criminal
enterprises don’t stop at state borders,
and neither did we in our pursuit of this
theft ring. Our investigation is ongoing.”
a recent six-month period, the ring members
allegedly committed thefts on more than
150 days, typically striking numerous Home
Depot stores and stealing hundreds of dollars
in merchandise each day. The ring members
allegedly stole items that were relatively
expensive from the Home Depot stores by
going through the self checkout areas and
not properly scanning the items. They allegedly
would use various tactics to hide their
“under-ringing” activity in
the self checkout area from security cameras
and any employee assigned to the area. In
some instances, a second ring member would
distract the store employee.
five men are charged with second-degree
crimes of conspiracy and shoplifting. The
shoplifting charges are graded as second-degree
crimes under New Jersey law because they
allegedly involved thefts totaling more
than $1,000 in merchandise committed as
part of an organized retail theft enterprise.
Suarez also faces a second-degree charge
of leading an organized retail theft enterprise.
investigation is being conducted for the
Division of Criminal Justice Financial &
Computer Crimes Bureau by Deputy Attorney
General Michael J. Rappa and Detective Sgt.
Louis Matirko. Attorney General Chiesa thanked
the United States Secret Service Newark
Field Office, under the supervision of Special
Agent in Charge Jacob Christine, and U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s
Homeland Security Investigations Newark,
under the supervision of Special Agent in
Charge Andrew McLees. Attorney General Chiesa
also thanked the Central Investigation Team
of Home Depot Corporation, which provided
valuable assistance throughout the investigation,
as well as the following law enforcement
agencies: West New York Police Department,
Dover Police Department (Morris County,
N.J.), Union Township Police Department,
Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office,
Whitehall (Pa.) Police Department and Lehigh
County (Pa.) District Attorney’s Office.
crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years
in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000,
while third-degree crimes carry a sentence
of three to five years in state prison and
a fine of up to $15,000.
charges are merely accusations and the defendants
are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Because the charges are indictable offenses,
they will be presented to a state grand
jury for potential indictment.
is being held in the Morris County Jail
with bail set at $75,000.
is currently serving a sentence of three
years of probation, which was imposed on
June 25, 2010, after he pleaded guilty to
third-degree charges of conspiracy and fraudulent
use of a credit card. The charges stemmed
from his arrest on July 20, 2009 outside
a BJ’s Warehouse in Raritan, where
he and another man were caught with televisions
and other items stolen from BJ’s in