(RepublicanView.org) – Three employees at a fast-food restaurant in Tucson, AZ, have been arrested after they were caught allegedly running an elaborate theft ring at work.
The employees, identified as Fabian Rodriguez, 61, Francis Sophia Vasquez, 45, a manager at the restaurant, and Lydia Grijalva-Velasquez, 52, are accused of collaborating with local shoplifters to sell stolen goods online and at their homes. The ring was so elaborate and widespread that Homeland Security Investigations agents joined the investigation.
The investigation began a year ago after Tucson police arrested a shoplifter. Investigations in the case led them to believe there was a much larger scheme at play. It also led them to believe that it was likely coordinated by employees at a fast-food chicken restaurant named Pollo Feliz. The employees were discovered to have purchased the stolen items from shoplifters at a low price, then resell them at a profit.
Officials set up surveillance operations near the restaurant, retailers, and employees’ homes. Nearly a year after beginning their investigation, authorities served search warrants for the restaurant and the participants’ homes. Rodrigue-Rios was once caught taking several diaper bags from a group of young men or teenage boys. He loaded the boxes into his truck and took them home. He was frequently seen meeting others behind the restaurant as well.
Several items intended for infants were also found in Vasquez’s home. However, there was no sign of an infant living there. Some of the items were also kept in self-storage rentals.
The ring largely targeted Oracle Road, an area with several big-box retailers, including Home Depot, Ross, Target, and others. Several of them assisted investigators in the case. Investigators found several items in their homes and vehicles. The recovered merchandise varied greatly in size and intended uses.
All three suspects have been released from jail for pretrial services. Their trial dates have not been set yet. The investigation remains ongoing. There is currently no evidence that the restaurant’s owners were involved in the scheme.
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