The Jersey City Police Department busted up a tri-state shoplifting ring that cost retail businesses millions in stolen merchandise, Chief Michael Kelly and other officials announced at a press conference today.
Eleven people were arrested after a year-long investigation was conducted by the Special Investigations Unit of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office for shoplifting items such as over the counter medications, vitamins and beauty supplies.
According to Jersey City Deputy Police Chief Mark Miller, the main ringleader, Stephan Williams, employed drivers who would load up vans of five to 10 people and drop them off at chain pharmacies such as Right Aide, Walgreens, CVS, Duane Rede and Ultra Beauty Supply in the tri-state area to shoplift the items.
Strangely, they were able to steal the items openly without worry of being noticed.
“The shoplifters would swipe a large gift bag from a shelf and then they would right out in the open start filling up the bag with items. Because many of these stores have a no-conflict policy, the shoplifter simply walked in and walked out without being stopped.”
Miller also noted that the shoplifting ring operated in seven counties in New Jersey in municipalities such as Watchung, Holmdel, Livingston, Howell, Hanover, Clifton and Clark, as well as Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties in Long Island, New York
“Once the shoplifters loaded up the vans, they then came back to Jersey City to go to 298 MLK Drive to be paid for items they stole, sometimes up to $650 on one run. Those items were shipped to 73 Bitwell Avenue as a stock room, and from there other individuals employed by Williams posted the stolen items on Williams’ Ebay store, and then packaged them and shipped them out to the online buyers,” Miller explained.
He then explained that on March 21st, the JCPD issued four search warrants, and with help from the HCPO, along with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Suffolk County Police Department, Suffolk Sheriff’s Office and the CXS Railroad police executed those warrants at the following locations:
298 MLK Drive, 116 Claremone Ave. and 73 Bitwell Ave. in Jersey City, as well as 181 Great East End Road in West Babylon.
The executions of the warrants resulted in the seizure of approximately $3 million worth of merchandise and the freezing of bank accounts totaling $4.5 million.
We asked Kelly how the shoplifters could just simply walk in and walk out with stolen merchandise from the chain pharmacies.
“That’s interesting. That would be a great question to ask them. They have not reported these thefts to us. These are all surveillance jobs conducted by us, and the stores had no idea what was going on. So this went on for months and months and months just in this investigation without a tip from the stores,” said Kelly.
Miller noted that Williams employed a “major financier;” we asked if he could identify the person. He said that the person has been arrested, but then he turned to Trecia Johnson, an assistant prosecutor with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.
She would not name the individual, but said that one of the people arrested on March 21st, Arsen Murtov from West Babylon, New York, was high up on the command chain of the ring’s operations.
“The only thing I can say to that is one of the individuals who we do believe was one of the top targets in the investigation is Arsen Murtov, he was arrested at the time of the execution of the warrant in Suffolk County, New York,” Johnson began.
“Just in terms of any other details with respect to him or any of the others, our ability to comment on that as well as prior records is limited because the investigation is still open and we are currently pursuing prosecution of those cases,” said Johnson.
Others arrested include, Arsen Murtov, Stephone Jordan, Gregory Lee, Chadra Adhar, Sasha Taveras, Zaria Pittman, Brian Ward, Marc Manno, Michael Roylance and Dalia Dellavale.
Miller added that warrants have been issued for the arrest of other 12 individuals involved in the ring, but they haven’t been apprehended yet.
The presser streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: