A 24-year-old Windsor man was sentenced Friday to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his role in an “extensive commercial larceny spree,” federal officials say.
New Canaan Police joined the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in an effort dubbed “Operation American Steal,” according to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The multi-agency investigation focused on numerous grab-and-go thefts from retailers including Polo Ralph Lauren, T.J. Maxx, Balenciaga, Burberry, Macy’s, Marshalls, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Tommy Hilfiger and Sephora, according to the release, issued by the office of the U.S. attorney, District of Connecticut.
During the thefts, “one or more perpetrators enter a retail store, grab as many items of clothing or other goods as they can carry, leave the store without paying for the merchandise, and depart in a waiting getaway vehicle,” the U.S. attorney said in the release.
The man was part of a network of individuals who in 2019 and 2020 committed at least 50 grab-and-go thefts throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, it said. He himself “participated in at least 34 thefts resulting in losses of more than $98,000,” it said. During one of the thefts, the man “bit a loss prevention officer who apprehended him as he attempted to steal merchandise.”
New Canaan’s Ralph Lauren store experienced a string of thefts in October 2019 that resulted in more than $8,000 worth of merchandise being stolen, police have said. A fourth attempt that same month went wrong after police placed an off-duty officer in the high-end clothing store at 51 Elm St. A car chase in the downtown ensued and, after a collision with a police vehicle, the suspects abandoned their own sedan and fled on foot, getting away. Thieves hit the same Ralph Lauren store in December, stealing more than $7,000 in shirts, and police started making arrests in the larcenies later in the month.
The man sentenced May 20 has been detained since August 2021. He pleaded guilty Dec. 22, to one count of conspiracy to transport and possess stolen property.