WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC4) – A West Valley City man has been arrested for conducting an organized retail crime scheme and was found with more than $80,000 worth of stolen retail goods.
The Utah Attorney General Office’s Economic crimes unit, C.A.S.E (Crimes Against Statewide Economy) has identified the suspect as 45-year-old Oscar Martinez.
Authorities recovered over $80,000 worth of stolen goods including brand-name power tools, home goods, and sporting equipment that police say Martinez stole and planned to resell illegally.
Officials say Martinez asked people who were struggling with drug addiction to steal the merchandise on his behalf, then paid them a fraction of what he would make by reselling them. The pilfered goods were typically from big-box retailers around town.
Martinez has been conducting this scheme for over a year, authorities say. The Attorney General’s Office says organized retail theft has been plaguing retailers nationwide, with an estimated loss of millions of dollars in stolen merchandise every month.
Typically, the stolen goods are resold online with profits used towards funding drug addiction, authorities say.
“Organized retail crime is a very serious problem in Utah, and is also a national trend,” said C.A.S.E Commander Christopher Walden. “It’s become an epidemic and is driving up the costs of these items so that the stores can cover their losses. We are committed to continuing to fight these crimes throughout the state.”
Martinez has been arrested on charges of stolen property, money laundering, and three counts of unlawfully acquiring stolen property.