A 28-year-old Hartford woman last week was sentenced to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for her involvement in an extensive criminal larceny spree, federal officials say.
New Canaan Police join the FBI and other authorities in a long-term multi-agency investigation dubbed “Operation American Steal,” according to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The investigation focused on “numerous ‘grab-and-go’ thefts from various retail fashion stores in Connecticut and nearby states,” according to the release, issued by the office of the U.S. attorney, District of Connecticut.
“A ‘grab-and-go’ scheme is a type of theft where 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 release said.
The woman was part of a network that committed more than 50 such thefts in 2019 and 2020 from Polo Ralph Lauren, T.J. Maxx, Balenciaga, Burberry, Macy’s, Marshalls, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Tommy Hilfiger and other stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, according to the U.S. attorney.
“They then transported the stolen merchandise to Connecticut and sold the items on the internet or the street,” it said.
The woman participated in at least 28 thefts that resulted in losses of more than $90,000, it said.
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 woman sentenced last Wednesday in U.S. District Court had been detained since her arrest. She has numerous larceny convictions going back nearly one decade and more recently assault charges out of Hartford, according to Connecticut Judicial Branch records.
A grand jury in September returned a six-count indictment charging her and seven others. She was formally arrested in Georgia the following month and, on May 14, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport and possess stolen property.