$250,000 of Stolen Reusable Plastic Containers and Pallets Recovered

We have reported about previous stolen plastic pallet and container recoveries in California. Then last month, more stolen trademark plastic products with an estimated value of $250,000.00 were recovered by deputies with the Industrial Plastic Theft Task Force, Industry Sheriff’s Station, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The recovery at two recycling businesses in South Los Angeles were part of an ongoing investigation of trademarked plastic theft and grinding operations. Some of the trademarked plastic products were intact, some were cut into pieces and some had already been grounded for resale.

The discovery was made at 6 P.M on Monday, December 19, 2011 by the task force members conducting Business and Professions Code compliance checks of recycling businesses.

Three Hispanic males were arrested at two locations: 1200 block of 58th Place, South Los Angeles, and about a mile away on the 6800 block of Stanford Avenue, South Los Angeles. The suspects were charged with felony Possession of Stolen Property, 496(A) PC and Illegal Possession of Trademark Plastic Products, 565 PC.

Suspect Juan Arrelano, the owner of the businesses and a 43-year old resident of the city of Bell, was arrested. Two employees were also arrested.
“The plastic trademark products are often stolen from the loading docks behind businesses throughout Los Angeles County and the entire region,” said Sergeant Nabeel Mitry, Industry Sheriff’s Station Industrial Plastic Theft Task Force. “Additionally, either employees steal the plastics themselves, or leave them in a place outside the business so their crime partners can pick them up.”

Most of the stolen/recovered plastics were pallets, trays, shelves, baskets, and totes (collapsable crates) from grocery stores, pizza places, bakery industry, restaurants, beverage companies, and shipping and receiving companies.

Sheriff’s investigators are recovering property stolen from victims throughout Los Angeles County, especially the San Gabriel Valley as well as communities in neighboring counties such as in the Inland Empire and Orange County.

“Over $5 million in stolen trademark plastic has been recovered in the last four months alone by the Sheriff’s Industrial Plastic Theft Task Force,” said Industry Sheriff’s Station Captain Mike Claus.

“The victims of these thefts are hard working businesspeople contributing products and services to their customers as well as jobs to the economy. The enormous cost to businesses as a result of these thefts is ultimately paid by consumers through increases in prices for goods and services.”

“Clearly, the enormity of the loss just in Los Angeles County could easily exceed $10 million dollars a year. I have been contacted by Los Angeles County and even worldwide global businesses who have made it clear that this is an epidemic that has never been addressed. These businesspeople are grateful that the Sheriff’s Department has taken a leadership role in addressing this issue and educating the public about it. While expressing gratitude, some businesses owners explained that their losses had been so huge, that had the thefts continued, they most likely would have had to go out of business.”

“We will continue to find these stolen products and return them to their rightful owners, and the people responsible will be arrested and addresed by the criminal justice system,” said Captain Claus.

This is the lastest in the ongoing efforts of the LASD – Industry Sheriff’s Station Industrial Plastic Theft task Force.

“With the rising value of plastics, the theft of plastic pallets and other reusable containers is on the rise,” said Al Farrell, Vice President of Asset Management at iGPS. “We have actively supported and cooperated with the Sheriff’s task force in LA County to combat these thieves. This arrest and others like it are proving that the task force approach is effective and serves as a model for other law enforcement agencies to adopt.”

Is this a good news story for reusable packaging, or just a sober reminder of the work that remains to close the loop. Clearly, if reliance on publicly financed policing to cover for inadequate management of reusables remains a pillar of reusable strategy – at least by some industry thought leaders, then this will continue to serve as a deterrent to wider adoption. Just my opinion. Weigh in with yours. More commentary to follow.

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