Police report breaking up major Wal-Mart retail theft ring

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BANGOR, Maine — A retail theft ring involving hundreds of stolen items from area Wal-Mart stores sold on eBay has been broken, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said Friday.

Maine State Police, with the assistance of local and federal law enforcement agencies, netted more than $240,000 in cash as well as a large number of stolen merchandise during searches Thursday of homes in Bangor, Bucksport and Frankfort, McCausland said.

The Wal-Marts targeted were in Palmyra, Bangor, Brewer and Ellsworth, he said.

No one has yet been charged in connection with the theft ring, but police plan to consult the district attorney’s offices in the counties involved and charges are likely, McCausland said.

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According to McCausland, an investigation led by Maine State Police Detective Chris Tupper of the Computer Crimes Unit and Trooper Chris Crawford uncovered the criminal enterprise run by a man from his home in Bucksport and a woman from her home in Frankfort.

The man, whose name was being withheld Friday because he had not yet been charged, was buying stolen merchandise and then selling the items online, McCausland said. The man and his girlfriend were living in an apartment at 165 Main St. in Bucksport, where police recovered a large quantity of merchandise believed to have been stolen.

The house in Frankfort was being used as a storage location for stolen items and cash, McCausland said. Seized from that residence was more than $100,000 in cash, along with bars of silver. Another $140,000 was found in a safe deposit box at a Bucksport bank, he said.

While not charged in connection with the theft ring, a Frankfort woman was arrested Thursday after she brandished a handgun at state troopers and federal agents who were serving the search warrant, McCausland said.

Charged with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon was Jane Tardiff, 67, of 27 Yeager Road, McCausland said. Tardiff was taken to Waldo County Jail in Belfast. She since has been released on bail.

Among the stolen items being sold on eBay were Star Wars and other Legos products, teeth-whitening strips, nicotine gum, razor blades and flea and tick treatments, according to McCausland. He said items seized during Thursday’s raid included dozens of boxes of Legos and tooth whitening products, archery equipment and a 46-inch television.

Information gathered from the searches in Bucksport and Frankfort later led investigators to Bangor, where search warrants were served at a home and a pawn shop, he said.

Assisting with the investigation were Bangor and Bucksport police, Homeland Security Investigations, Wal-Mart Global Investigations and Maine welfare fraud investigators.

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