SEATTLE - Local Fred Meyer stores were targeted by men who stole merchandise and later sold it online.
Boosting is a huge problem for retailers and at least 10 Fred Meyer stores in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties have been hit.
Investigators said five men have been charged with stealing more than $30,000 worth of appliances, DVDs and video games and then selling the items online through an eBay account.
According to court documents, Emilio Morales’ role in the boosting ring was a “fence,” who sold the stolen items online.
Police confirmed his involvement in the ring by matching his image in surveillance video with his Facebook photo. According to police, the four other men charged were the ones who shoplifted the items.
Customers who have recently purchased a small appliance from a local eBay seller may have purchased stolen merchandise.
KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Amy Clancy spoke with Robert Onishi of the Renton Police Department about the investigation.
“This operation was pretty big. It’s my understanding that records show they had already liquidated over $30,000 of merchandise on online retailers such as eBay and that’s probably a small portion of what they were able to move,” said Onishi.
An investigation by the Renton Police Department has been ongoing for nearly a year.
Investigators did not say how much Fred Meyer loses to boosting each year, but nationwide, it’s a $30 billion problem a year.
Of the five men, two are in jail, two are out of jail awaiting trial and one is on the run.
Trial dates for the five men are still pending.