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Police Say Theft Ring Cracked

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

They conducted a two-year investigation, and say that some area storeswere 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 FortBragg's PX -- and then sell them to retail businesses.

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

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

The owner of one shop targeted says he is innocent, and that he is notthe 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 thoseitems. They are small items, easily concealable, expensive items whosemark-up is significant. They are an easy target for theboosters. 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 whothey consider suspects, only that

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