A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods

 

Top Ten Toys targeted by LEGO thieves

August 23rd, 2016 by Doree

Top Ten Toys, at 120 N. 85th St., has been hit recently by at least two shoplifters who have stolen high-end LEGO sets. Staffing Manager Aries J. Galindo said two men visited the store separately last week, and another man and woman appeared to be casing the store previous to that.

Security camera footage shows the man in the image below went straight to the back of the store, placed his large backpack on the floor, picked up several small LEGO sets, then walked out with one of the large LEGO Mindstorms sets worth more than $300.

Shoplifter-backpacker-8-17-16

Later in the week, the man in the white shirt pictured below entered the store carrying an empty gift bag. About 10 minutes later as he was leaving the store, a staff member approached him because she saw that he had a LEGO Mindstorms set in the bag. The man said he had just purchased it at Fred Meyer. Galindo said that man had a number of tattoos on both arms and a tattoo behind his left ear.

Shoplifter-giftbag

Galindo said the store is missing at least four of these expensive LEGO sets. Because of the thefts, Top Ten Toys has instituted a bag check when customers enter the store. Customers who refuse a staff member’s request to look in their bag will be asked to put their bag in their vehicle or come back later without the bag.

The store also will not accept any returns for LEGO Mindstorms sets without a receipt. “We maintain the right to retain the item until said receipt is presented and the sales database is cross referenced,” he told me by email. “There will not be any refunds and/or store credits for LEGO sets that are clearly showing as ‘no sale’ in our system.”

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King County Prosecutors Office charges Greenwood’s GMS Market in $1.25 million shoplifting ring

May 19th, 2011 by Doree

The King County Prosecutor’s Office today filed charges against four owners of the GMS Market, a convenience store at 10406 Greenwood Ave. N., alleging they organized a major retail theft ring.

According to documents from KCPO, prosecutors say the GMS Market owners paid thieves to shoplift goods from local retailers, then resold them at GMS Market and online. According to the prosecutor’s office, many of the shoplifters have been prosecuted, while others will be witnesses in the case.

Gulshan Rai, 56, and his wife, Shabnam Sukhija, 57, along with their son, Jatin Rai, 36, and daughter-in-law Mitu Rai, 35, are facing a variety of charges related to the alleged scheme. Gulshan, Shabnam and Jatin Rai are each charged with four counts of Attempted Trafficking in Stolen Property First Degree, and Mitu Rai is charged with one count of Attempted Trafficking in Stolen Property. All four are also charged with one count of Attempted Possession of Stolen Property First Degree and one count of Conspiracy to Commit Organized Retail Theft Second Degree. Items included razor blades, food items, medicines, and bath products stolen from Safeway, QFC, Fred Meyer and Target. The loss to retailers is estimated at $1.25 million.

If convicted as charged, Gulshan faces a sentence of just under 10 months to almost 13 months. Jatin and Shabnam Rai each face a sentence of 16 ½ to almost 22 months in prison. The sentence range for Mitu Rai is 9 to 10 ½ months.

The defendants will be arraigned on June 2. The judge set bail at $10,000 for each of the defendants, and ordered them to surrender their passports. All four are U.S. citizens, but prosecutors say they have extensive ties to India.

We are still wading through all the documents, so we’ll update this post with more information shortly.

More information from the Certification of Determination of Probable Cause:

The Seattle Police Department began its investigation into GMS Market last November. Over the course of four months, undercover officers and confidential informants (CI) conducted 17 sales of “stolen goods,” which were actually donated to the police department by area retailers for use in the investigation. Detectives marked the donated goods with an ultraviolet pen.

On several occasions, the defendants told the undercover officers or CI’s which items they were looking to buy, and gave CI’s tips on shoplifting. Some of those incidents were tape recorded.

Some of the stolen items that GMS Market sold still bore stickers from the original retailers.

Detectives served a search warrant on GMS Market and the defendants’ residence (where all four live), and found a large number of health and beauty products in the home.

Prosecutors allege Jatin Rai earned $130,000 selling stolen goods through the GMS Market website online.

Prosecutors allege that Gulshan Rai admitted to buying stolen goods, but said it was necessary to make up for the losses the store itself incurred from shoplifting. Jatin Rai also allegedly admitted that he knew the items were shoplifted, but that his father had ordered him to buy them. Shabnam Sukhija alsoallegedly  admitted knowing the items were shoplifted, but said her family had to do it to make up for shoplifters and robberies at their store, and that the economy had affected their business. Mitu Rai also allegedly admitted knowing the items were stolen.

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Police bust alleged shoplifting ring at GMS Market in Greenwood

March 16th, 2011 by Doree

Seattle Police yesterday served search warrants on the GMS Market at 10406 Greenwood Ave. N., and at GMS owners’ residence and on their vehicles. Police say that an undercover investigation led them to an extensive retail theft crime ring that allegedly shoplifted millions of dollars’ worth of items from other stores, then sold them to GMS Market’s owners for resale in the store.

From Seattle Police Department’s online blotter:

On 03/15/11, search warrants were served on the GMS Market, the GMS owners’ residence and their vehicles. The Seattle Police Property Recovery/Pawn Unit conducted an investigation into an extensive retail theft crime ring in and around the City of Seattle. Through an undercover operation in conjunction with suspect, victim, witness, and informant interviews, and with the cooperation of loss prevention officers from victim retail stores, investigators learned of an organized criminal group active in this area.

The group used thieves (boosters) to enter retail grocery and other stores to steal merchandise.
Over the past 2 years, the merchant victims reported experiencing repeated thefts of merchandise exceeding millions of dollars in value, some of which detectives were able to contribute to the GMS Market. The GMS Market, located in the Greenwood neighborhood in North Seattle is a family owned business and only family members work in the store.

It appeared that many of the thieves are individuals addicted to heroin and other illegal drugs. The owners of the GMS Market provided the thieves with requests for specific items, asking for merchandise with a shelf value of over $20 each. The owners of the GMS Market then paid cash for the stolen items, usually $1-$2 per item. Detectives conducted more than 12 undercover sales of purportedly stolen product to the owners and clerks of GMS Market. These transactions took place between December 4th, 2010, and March 10th, 2011. Detectives also learned that one of the owners of the GMS Market operated internet stores on Ebay and Amazon Marketplace.

In the course of this investigation, undercover detectives purchased “stolen” merchandise (positively identified as the merchandise sold to GMS by undercover and informants) from the GMS Market as well as from the internet stores.

Over the last two years, Safeway, QFC, Target, Fred Meyer, Top Foods and other local retail stores in the North Seattle area alone have reported losses in health and beauty items of over 1.5 million dollars. In order to combat those losses, retail stores have been forced to deploy additional loss prevention officers at these North Seattle and North King County stores.

Investigators recovered a large amount of evidence from the search warrants. After going through this evidence, investigators will request appropriate charges through the King County Prosecutors Office. Potential charges include: Leading Organized Crime, Trafficking in Stolen Property and Organized Retail Theft.

The Seattle Police Property Recovery/Pawn Unit would like to thank the King County Prosecutors Office, Safeway, QFC, Target, Fred Meyer, Top Foods and other local retail stores in North Seattle/North King County in this joint collaboration.

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