Local News

Police Say Theft Ring Cracked

Posted November 15, 1996

— Local and federal officials say they have cracked a major stolen goods ring that operated in Cumberland and Robeson Counties. They say their raids on six local businesses netted $1 million in merchandise.

They conducted a two-year investigation, and say that some area stores were selling "hot" items, which they received virtually by the truckload. Authorities said the ring operated with assistance from so-called "boosters," people who steal items from area stores -- among them Fort Bragg's PX -- and then sell them to retail businesses.

Among the items stolen were batteries, fishing supplies, health and beauty aids, and electronics.

No arrests have yet been made, but officers visited several stores and confiscated items they say were stolen.

The owner of one shop targeted says he is innocent, and that he is not the person he thinks the law officers are looking for.

"I think somewhere along the line we've done business with someone... who implicated us," the owner said.

FBI Agent John Strong said, "There's quite a market out there for those items. They are small items, easily concealable, expensive items whose mark-up is significant. They are an easy target for the boosters. A lot of money can be made on them."

The raids wiped some businesses clean.

Investigators won't give details about how they were tipped off or who they consider suspects, only that

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