DENVER – A 25-person shoplifting ring targeting Denver-area home improvement stores has been dismantled, the Denver District Attorney’s Office announced Monday.
A Denver Grand Jury returned a 27-count indictment against the 25 defendants in connection with the criminal enterprise that prosecutors say stole more than $35,000 worth of merchandise from Home Depot and Lowe’s stores in the Denver-area in a year.
The alleged ringleader, Christopher Rodriguez, 31, was arrested and charged with several felony charges including one count of violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act. Eighteen of the 25 suspects in the alleged ring were arrested or are in custody after a raid last week. Seven remain at large.
Prosecutors say Rodriguez directed fellow members of the criminal enterprise in stealing merchandise from the stores, then returning the stolen items to the stores for merchandise gift cards, which were in turn sold for cash to pay enterprise members in cash or drugs.
Rodriguez allegedly provided room and board in Denver for some members of the enterprise and bonded associates out of jail and compelled them to work for him until they could repay the bond fee.
Rodriquez was out on bond for an unrelated criminal case and authorities were monitoring his movement through an electronic device when he allegedly committed many of the crimes. The data from that device is helping prosecutors place Rodriquez at the scene.
The indictment is the result of a months-long investigation and collaboration between several agencies including the Denver District Attorney’s office.