Stolen goods in $1.2 million pawn shop scheme returned to Home Depot

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – As part of a $1.2 Million seizure in stolen merchandise, the Utah Attorney General’s Office returned $5,000 worth of taken goods to the Home Depot in Riverdale on Friday.

“Theft is not just in Home Depot, but in retailers has grown to what is now called organized retail crime,” said Paul Richards, the Home Depot Asset Protection Manager.

The items being returned were retrieved from Big Dog Pawn Shop in Murray.

One of several pawn shops involved in a scheme across the Wasatch Front.

It’s the result of an undercover investigation by the Utah Attorney General’s Office that began early last year.

“This stuff that you’re seeing here today is part of a process that is very organized and detailed, and is impacting retail across America,” said Richards.

The items include drills, light stands, electronics and vacuum cleaners.

According to charging documents, the items were stolen and sold to buy drugs including opioids and heroin.

“The tip actually came from a combination of eBay and Home Depot,” said James Russell, Supervising Special Agent for the Utah Attorney General’s Office. “Where they came out and taught us about what was going on in the pawnshop realm with organized retail theft.”

Authorities say the boosters would sell the stolen items to pawn shops where little to no questions were asked as to where they came from.

Most of the items still in their original packaging with security devices attached.

Friday’s giveback is one of several the Utah Attorney General’s Office hopes to be able to do as part of this investigation.

“To actually do it in this kind of quantity is really difficult,” said Russell. “I don’t know of any other incident where it’s been done like this.”

The Utah Attorney General’s Office says Home Depot is among several stores including Target, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Kroger that were targeted by shoplifters.

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