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Multi-agency investigation breaks up theft crimes ring

A Houston man was recently convicted in federal court for his part in a major shoplifting and fencing operation responsible for the loss of $10 million a year in merchandise. The alleged theft crimes occurred between 2008 and 2012.

The Houston Police Department and Harris County Sheriff's Office worked together with the FBI on the investigation that ended in the arrests of the Houston man and other members of the shoplifting ring. According to the FBI, the theft crimes operation had ties to the Middle East.

The shoplifting scheme used undocumented aliens in the U.S. to steal merchandise in several states, including Texas. Instead of returning to Houston with the stolen goods and risk apprehension by the police, the shoplifters shipped the merchandise. Once it arrived at the convicted man's warehouse in Houston, the merchandise was prepared for resale. The FBI said the Houston man netted an estimated $1 million from the sale of the stolen items.

Law enforcement and prosecutors take shoplifting seriously. A theft charge conviction can result in serous penalties including imprisonment, probation and fines. The ensuing criminal record could have far-reaching consequences that might include difficulty obtaining employment.

Representation by a criminal defense attorney might be beneficial for a person facing theft crimes charges. The penalties a judge can impose at sentencing vary in severity depending upon the charges. A criminal defense attorney might be able to obtain a plea bargain reducing felony theft charges to misdemeanors. Such a reduction might help a suspect avoid a state prison sentence in favor of serving time in a local jail. Depending upon the circumstances of a case, the attorney might be able to negotiate a plea that involves only probation.

Source: Cypress Creek Mirror, "Major Middle Eastern crime ring dismantled in Houston," March 13, 2013

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