Shoplifting Bust Leads to Stolen Merchandise

April 14, 2006

Los Angeles: Detectives’ diligence in debriefing a woman arrested for shoplifting has lead to the exposure and related arrest of a downtown business owner whose entire retail store was stocked with stolen merchandise.

On Tuesday, April 11, 2006, a 33-year-old Hispanic woman of Bell, California, was arrested for stealing merchandise at a mid-Wilshire Sav-on Drugstore, in the 3700 block of West Wilshire Boulevard. During interrogation the woman, detectives surmised that she regularly sold stolen goods for cash at a downtown retail store. She ultimately volunteered the name and location of the store.

Based on her account, detectives set up an undercover sting operation to simulate the sale of stolen goods at the small incidental retail outlet, in the 700 block of South Broadway. A plainclothes officer, equipped with a clandestine wire to record conversation, entered the store and attempted to sell nominally stolen goods. The store proprietor, Jose Perez, 31, a resident of Los Angeles, immediately gave the officer cash in exchange for the merchandise. While the officer was still in the store, he saw a third man “fencing” probable stolen merchandise.

After the undercover officer departed, detectives moved in and arrested Perez for 496 PC, Receiving Stolen Property. His bail was set at $20,000. Two additional suspects were arrested for the same crime: Leyla Mirella Juarez, 19, of Los Angeles; and Benjamin Williams, 48, of Los Angeles, a parolee.

A fourth suspect, Luzon Kim Williams, 45, of Los Angeles, was arrested for being a parolee at large.

Evidence seized included hundreds of small retail items, including shampoo, deodorant, over-the-counter medication and several thousand dollars in cash. Perez could produce no paperwork to establish that any portion of the store’s wares had been legally obtained. A small quantity of illegal cigarettes and pirated tapes were also discovered. In all over 100,000 pieces of merchandise were taken into custody.

"The fact that detectives started with a routine theft arrest, and through effective interrogation obtained sufficient information to justify an undercover investigation, attests to the importance of thoroughly debriefing suspects as a normal course of our procedures," said Captain Farrell of Wilshire Area.

Anyone with additional information is asked to call Detective Ed Hayes, at Wilshire Area Burglary, 213-922-8005.