Robert Dell, 57, is well-known in his community for aiding drug users through a recovery program at The Rock Community Church and Transformation Center in St. Petersburg, according to the Wall Street Journal. Prosecutors claim that the clergyman had a side business operating an organized retail crime ring.
Dell allegedly bought stolen goods from thieves in his capacity as an intermediary and resold them on eBay. He urged people in his rehabilitation program to pilfer tools from Home Depot establishments and deliver them to his residence.
He has been doing his illegal business for a minimum of seven years. Dell is accused of making $3 million for himself by reselling the stolen products through the eBay account Anointed Liquidator since 2016.
Dell and four other individuals, including his mother and wife, were taken into custody in August following a seven-month investigation into the criminal organization. After Home Depot worked with Florida law enforcement to take the crooks to task, the team was apprehended.
Dell is charged not only with racketeering but also with conspiracy to commit racketeering and trafficking in stolen property. He was freed on bond in late September after entering a not guilty plea to the allegations.
The Dell case serves as a reminder of the difficulties law enforcement encounters in preventing retail crime.
As we previously reported, Target is closing nine locations in four states as a result of an increase in thefts.
Target released a statement saying, "[W]e cannot continue operating these stores because organized retail crime and theft are threatening our team's and guests' safety and contributing to unsustainable business performance." "We are aware of the significant impact our stores have on the communities in which they operate, but our success depends on ensuring that everyone feels safe both at work and when shopping."
According to CBS News, "the closures include three stores in the Bay Area of California; three stores in Portland, Oregon; two in Seattle; and one in New York City."
On October 21, the stores will close. Target will still have 150 stores following the closures.
Target implemented additional security guards and other steps, but to no effect, in an attempt to prevent organized retail crime at the impacted shops, as reported by CBS News.