WOODBURY, Minn. (KMSP) - Two Minnesota men have been charged in connection to a criminal operation involving potentially $1 million worth of stolen merchandise from Twin Cities metro stores, according to Woodbury Public Safety. Police say the stolen items would transfer hands and then be resold on eBay.
Randal David Simmons, 54, of Landfall and Brian James Bowling, 45, of St. Paul are both charged with felony racketeering. They each face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
“This is the largest retail theft racketeering and fencing case in the metro area," said Washington County Attorney Pete Orput in a press release. "Thanks to Woodbury police for uncovering this huge organized retail theft and resale operation. This is exactly the type of case the criminal racketeering statute was meant to cover. This office will bring all its resources to bear to bring these defendants to justice.”
According to the criminal complaint, in June Woodbury police arrested Bowling for the theft of a $1,400 mattress from JC Penney in Woodbury. In an interview with police, Bowling said he stole it to sell it to Simmons, who he had sold stolen merchandise to in the past.
Through further investigation, police discovered a criminal enterprise run throughout the Twin Cities metro area. Bowling and Simmons worked with others to steal items, store the merchandise and later resell the property through multiple eBay storefronts. While conducting surveillance on the men, police determined Simmons and Bowling met up after thefts at Nordstrom, REI, JC Penney, Walmart, Petsmart and Sam's Club stores located throughout the metro area. The stolen items ranged from jeans, camping tents, mattresses, hover boards, fish filters, vacuum cleaners and more.
Police believe Bowling alone has stolen more than $20,000 worth of merchandise. Surveillance video captured multiple meetings between Bowling and Simmons when they would exchange the items.
Officers discovered three eBay accounts associated with Simmons. Two of the accounts made about $54,846 in sales between January and July and the third account had about $79,207 in sales during roughly the same time period.
Police arrested Simmons on Tuesday and executed search warrants at two residences and three storage garages where investigators found potentially thousands of retail items in their original packaging.
“An entire house and multiple storage units were dedicated to storage of stolen merchandise,”
said Woodbury Police Cmdr. Steve Wills in a press release.
Both and Simmons and Bowling have long criminal records with histories of theft.