A plastic pallet and container theft ring has been uncovered in New Jersey. Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Fairfield Police Chief Charles Voelker recently announced the arrest of eight people following a two-month joint investigation into the theft of plastic crates, valued in excess of $100,000 and commonly used by major retailers to ship food products and other retail items.
On November 19, law enforcement officials executed search warrants at Farmplast, located at 5 Washington Avenue, Fairfield, Adali Plastics, located at 40 Pier Lane West in Fairfield, and at a Charlotte Place, Englewood Cliffs residence that is associated with Farmplast.
At both facilities large amounts of plastic totes and plastic pallets, belonging to companies such as Rite Aid, CVS, Bimbo Bakeries, Pepsi Cola, Walgreen and the United States Postal Service, were recovered. Most of the stolen plastic items were marked with the rightful owner’s company name and a warning against there unauthorized use or theft.
It is alleged that before and throughout the course of the investigation, both facilities continuously received stolen plastic totes and other plastic items, around the clock, from a variety of individuals who were engaged in stealing them from various store locations in New York and New Jersey. After the stolen totes were received at the warehouse, it is alleged they would be ground up and new totes manufactured that both companies would then sell for profit.
After search warrants were executed at two Fairfield warehouse facilities and a private Englewood Cliffs residence, the following individuals were arrested and charged with receiving stolen property: Fernando Marzan, 20, Elvis Fermin, 20, Armando DeDios, 29, Luis Hernandez, 24, Michael Malave,19, Victor Tejada Jr., 25, all of Paterson; Richard Ferreria, 32, of Haledon, and Alfredo DeDios, 53, of Hackensack, N.J.
Even while Fairfield police were securing the facilities after the search warrants were executed, four separate trucks, allegedly containing stolen totes, were stopped as they arrived at both locations.
The investigation is active and ongoing and additional charges are anticipated.
Acting Prosecutor Murray lauded Assistant Prosecutor Buermann, ECPO Detective Patrick Todd and Fairfield Detective Sgt. Charles Zampino for their outstanding work on this case, also reminding the public that all are accusations only. All defendants are presumed to be innocent until they either enter a guilty plea or are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
According to a local newspaper report, the investigation was kick-started by Jim Rood, an investigator working on behalf of a retailers group. His Maryland-based JR Investigative Services works with COMBAT, or Control of Missing Baskets and Trays, an industry coalition including representatives of Pepsi, H&S Bakery, Flowers Foods, Bimbo Bakeries, Cloverland Dairy and others.
While Rood declined to speak to the specifics of this case, he did comment on a similar case that took place in Philadelphia, where thieves were paid 15 cents to 25 cents per container, earning about $600 per week. Containers were accepted and ground at a cost of about 10 cents per pound, and subsequently sold for about 30 cents per pound.