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September 22, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Five charged in $500K merchandise thefts from Westchester retailers

Westchester County Police arrested five people Aug. 14 and charged them with stealing more than $500,000 worth of merchandise from TJ Maxx and other retailers in the past five months through the use of identity theft and credit card fraud.

Officials said the ring would buy several thousand dollars in merchandise a day, including high-end pocketbooks and clothing, televisions and furniture using credit cards obtained through fraudulent means. Preliminary charges included multiple counts of grand larceny, criminal possession of a forged instrument and identity theft. The investigation was continuing and additional charges were anticipated.

Two of the suspects were arrested in Mount Vernon. Hassan Miller, 46, of Chester Street in Mount Vernon, and Dawn Anderson, 48, of the Bronx, were being held at the Westchester County Jail in Valhalla. Stanley Awala, 45, of St. Albans, Queens, and 37-year-old Asanimo Riesa and Peter Onogwu, 63, both of the Bronx, were being held at Westchester County Police Headquarters in Hawthorne pending arraignment.

Westchester County Police detectives, assisted by members of the County Police Special Response Team and investigators from the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, made arrests at one residence in Mount Vernon, three in the Bronx and one in Queens. Numerous items of stolen property, worth more than $100,000, were seized at the five residences. Several vans and a U-Haul truck were needed to take away the seized stolen goods, police said. A complete inventory of the recovered items was being done. Devices used to make fraudulent credit cards and fraudulent identification were also seized by police.

“I would like to commend the General Investigations Unit for the painstaking investigation it conducted in recent months to identify these thieves and bring them to justice,” Westchester County Police Commissioner Thomas A. Gleason said. “I am grateful to the prosecutors and investigators at the Westchester District Attorney’s Office for their invaluable assistance throughout this lengthy and complex investigation.”

“This was a lucrative criminal enterprise that victimized numerous retail establishments in Westchester and beyond,” Gleason said. “We have evidence that this scheme was also utilized outside of Westchester and we will be sharing information and evidence with other jurisdictions.”

“This was an important collaborative effort to stop the kind of theft that begins by stealing identities of innocent victims and then becomes theft of property,” Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino Jr. said. “Our specialized Identity Theft Unit will see that they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”