Retail Crime is traditionally made up of two groups, the
booster and the fence. In the past, the fence has
operated "stores" out of their homes, flea markets, or
street corners. However, eFencing has been on the rise
in recent years. With the popularity and anonymity of
online auction sites, such as eBay and Craigslist,
e-fencing has become an attractive quality in fencing
stolen merchandise. Another bonus to eFencing is that
you can ask more for the stolen merchandise. Typically
these sites will ask 70% of the retail value for stolen
items vs. 30% for traditional brick and mortar
locations. The Macy’s ORC team has been actively
investigating different fencing locations including eFencing sites.
Macy’s sells private brands which are exclusive to
Macy’s. While researching one of the high shortage
private brands, International Concepts or INC, being
sold on eBay, an investigation was initiated into an
eBay account selling INC merchandise in excess of
$110,000. This seller used the user id "illdevilinc."
Using their access to eBay's Proact system, Macy's East Coast
ORC Manager was able to obtain seller’s
personal information in order to further the
investigation. It was determined that the seller lived
in San Leandro, Calif. The listed seller was a
19-year-old male. The ORC team utilized Macy’s
investigative systems to ensure he wasn’t an associate
or had not been apprehended in the past. They also
utilized internet public searches and social media to
research the seller. It was determined that the male
subject lived with three other people, assumed to be his
mother and grandparents. It was determined that
surveillance was the next step in the case.
West Coast ORC Manager traveled to the
suspect’s home residence to conduct surveillance on the
surveillance, two female subjects were observed leaving
the residence. They were followed to the Macy’s store
located in San Leandro. The East ORC Manager notified the store of
the women’s presence and observation was begun utilizing
the store’s CCTV system. The women were observed
entering the INC department and immediately began
selecting multiple pieces of INC merchandise. One
suspect entered a fitting room with large amounts of
INC, while the other brought her more merchandise.
Store LP assisted in the fitting room surveillance.
After an hour, both suspects departed the
store. Multiple pieces of INC clothing were missing and
unaccounted for from the fitting room. The ORC Manager followed
the women back to the residence. At this time, it was
determined that the eBay seller was the Mother of the
person listed on the eBay account. The ORC Manager performed
several observations over the course of two months with
the same results.
The ORC Manager
monitored the seller’s eBay site and verified
that items missing during surveillance were being posted
for sale on the site.
The West ORC Manager
then conducted a controlled undercover purchase
of several INC items from the sellers eBay site. When
the packages arrived on the East Coast, they were able to
confirm that the items they purchased were indeed the same
items the suspect was observed selecting and entering
the fitting room with. The packaging also confirmed the
seller’s address, and name of the suspect under
surveillance. Further investigation revealed that this
suspect had been arrested for shoplifting on several
other occasions at multiple retailers.
partnership with local law enforcement, detectives from
the San Leandro County Police Department were contacted
and presented with the evidence from the surveillance
and purchases. A short time later, Detectives from San
PD and the two ORC Managers
executed a search warrant on the sellers’ residence. Over 200 pieces of stolen Macy’s private brand
merchandise was recovered totaling over $10,000. Based
on admission, the suspect listed these items at 30%-35%
off the retail value. The total case value based on the
admission and recovery is estimated $300,000 dollars.
Suspect was arrested and is pending trial.