$500,000 in stolen items from Lowe's, Home Depot stores found in major LA retail theft bust: CHP

Jaysha Patel Image
Wednesday, December 13, 2023
$500,000 in stolen tools found in major LA retail theft bust, CHP says
According to the California Highway Patrol, a theft ring targeted Lowe's, Home Depot, and Harbor Freight stores throughout SoCal.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Three men from Los Angeles were arrested in connection with an organized retail theft ring that targeted different home improvement stores throughout Southern California, authorities said.

According to the California Highway Patrol, which is leading the task force to tackle rampant retail theft, the theft ring targeted Lowe's, Home Depot, and Harbor Freight stores.

After compiling a case in a month-long probe, investigators executed a search warrant Monday at a hardware and plumbing supply business in L.A. where numerous stolen products were found. Authorities recovered five guns, $30,000 in cash, and half a million dollars in stolen merchandise.

The products were stolen by various "boosters," which are people who go into these stores and figure out how to steal merchandise, according to CHP.

"It tends to be the bigger chains just because there's more of them, they're more easily accessible," said CHP Officer Alec Pereyda. "We don't know how long they were stealing these items. They had to be doing it for a good amount of time for them to be able to (accrue) $500,000 in stolen merchandise."

Three people - 54-year-old Jose Rivera, 43-year-old Fernando Hernandez, and 45-year-old Rogelio Salgado - are now facing various charges, including organized retail theft, receiving stolen property, and weapons-related offenses.

Among the items recovered were water heaters, furnaces, extension ladders, 5-gallon buckets of paint, and various tools and plumbing fixtures such as kitchen faucets.

The big bust came as the House Homeland Security subcommittee held a hearing about organized retail crime. During a more than two-hour meeting Tuesday, there was discussion about the lack of good data and statistics about organized retail theft.

Seven witnesses who were questioned by the subcommittee said organized retail theft was a serious threat. People in that hearing called for legislation, with some claiming that certain policies in primarily Democratic cities may be helping contribute to the rise of this type of crime.