By Lieutenant Chris Lawler
On December 9, 2015, the Lakewood Police Department Property Crimes/Robbery Unit was contacted by a Detective from the Gig Harbor Police Department about a possible fencing operation in the City of Lakewood that was very active on eBay. The Gig Harbor Detective had been originally contacted by the Loss Prevention folks at Home Depot because they had been tracking an organized theft ring operating in the South Puget Sound area.
The Lakewood Police Department Property Crimes/Robbery Unit contacted Home Depot and learned the organized theft ring was responsible for almost $100,000 in losses to Home Depot in the South Puget Sound area and believed the items were being sold to a second hand store called “Thrift-T” in Lakewood. The business is located in the 9600 block of 40th Avenue Southwest.
The Lakewood Police Department Property Crimes/Robbery Unit used “Leads Online” (Pawn/Second Hand reporting program) and found “Thrift-T” was purchasing large qualities of new items from individuals. After purchasing the items, “Thrift-T” would sell the items on EBay. Further investigation found that the individuals selling the items had criminal history for shoplifting and theft.
Home Depot donated over $1200 in brand new merchandise to the Lakewood Police Department Property Crimes/Robbery Unit to assist in the investigation. Undercover officers from the Lakewood PD sold these items to “Thrift-T” on two consecutive days. Some of these items had the security devices still attached to them.
The Lakewood Police Department Property Crimes/Robbery Unit served a search warrant on the business (02-18-16 to 02-19-16) over the course of two days and recovered several items. A large quantity of security devices that were removed from items were located in the trash at the business. A total of 2500+ items were seized valued at approximately $150,000-$200,000. Victims include Home Depot, Lowes, Fred Meyer, Target, Kohls and several more unidentified retailers. Some of the items recovered included miscellaneous power tools, beauty supplies, vitamins, household products, personal hygiene products, toys, electronics, sporting goods, arts, clothing, automotive parts, musical items, home improvement item, hand tools and pet supplies.
The owner of “Thrift-T”, Timothy Tull (43 years old), was arrested (02-18-16) and booked into the Pierce County Jail for Trafficking in Stolen Property, First Degree.
This case emphasizes the importance of having clear and strict ordinances and regulations of second hand stores. Were it not for the requirements Lakewood had in place, this investigation would not have been as successful in identifying and recovering a vast quantity of stolen property.
Our thanks to the Gig Harbor Police Department and the victim retailers for their assistance with this investigation.
See the video at the link below for photos and video from the scene.
This release was delayed to facilitate additional investigation into the business and the subjects suspected of selling the stolen property.