WEST VALLEY CITY – The Utah Attorney General Office’s Economic crimes unit C.A.S.E (Crimes Against Statewide Economy) has arrested a West Valley City man who was profiting from reselling large amounts of stolen merchandise from local big-box retailers. Officers recovered more than $80,000 worth of new, brand-name power tools, home goods, and sporting equipment, set to be sold illegally.
45-year-old Oscar Martinez, has been charged with possession of stolen property; 3 counts of unlawfully acquiring stolen property, and money laundering.
Organized retail theft is one of the most serious challenges retailers are facing this year. Nationwide, people are loading shopping carts with expensive merchandise and simply stealing it. Estimates are that millions of dollars of merchandise are lost every month across the country. The proceeds are usually sold online marketplaces, with the money typically funding drug addictions.
Martinez is alleged to have arranged for people who are addicted to drugs to steal the merchandise for him. Officers say he would provide shopping lists for items at retailers including Home Depot and then pay a fraction of the value, then resell it online for a profit. They say this illegal operation has been going on for more than a year.
“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.”
C.A.S.E is a joint task force between the Utah Attorney General’s office and the Utah Department of Public Safety, state bureau of investigations.
ICAC Arrest in Salt Lake County
SALT LAKE COUNTY–Also this week: ICAC agents continued to investigate the dozens of tips received regarding citizens distributing child pornography. On Wednesday, ICAC officers arrested a man after discovering tens of thousands of child sexual abuse files in a residence. Agents also recovered drugs and a gun at the home.
Agents charged 60-year-old Garret Brian Ferrari with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. Gun and drug offenses will be charged separately. On the scene, Ferrari admitted that he had been collecting these files for years, which corroborates the volume of files recovered.###