JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — A four month undercover investigation called Operation “Get Fit” is behind the seizure of more than $500,000 worth of merchandise believed to be stolen from retail store.
Police say that two 53-foot tractor trailers of full new in the box property along with $618,936.24 were seized.
Items included fitbits, thermostats, vacuums, power tools, and high end purses. 16 people were arrested.
“The suspects are facing both theft charges and receiving stolen property charges,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls.
Falls says these crimes happened over a two year period.
He says “boosters,” or the thieves, sell the stolen merchandise from retails stores like Home Depot, CVS and Walgreens, to “fences,” or people who buy it. The items are then usually sold through eBay and Craigslist.
“This boosting and fencing in a criminal enterprise, and what it does it add to destruction of the community as whole because at some point those stores those retails cannot survive and continue to do business in the community because they suffer a loss from crime,” said Falls.
In Operation “Get Fit,” undercover law enforcement officers and retailers teamed up.
Officers would try to sell items presented as stolen to the certain stores. Police say the employees bought the items knowing they were stolen.
13 Pawn and Payday Loan stores in Shelby and Jefferson County were raided during the investigation.