CERES (CBS13) — A man is facing multiple years in prison after he was caught running an illegal online business from his garage in Ceres.
Police say thousands of dollars worth of items were stolen from retail shops across the community and then sold for half the retail price. Investigators are going through three trailers full of stolen items.
The illegal business has been running for the last two years. Police say the thieves brazenly hit big-box retail shops in Riverbank, Modesto, and Turlock. That caught the eye of investigators from the Ceres Police Department.
“People not just going to the store and stealing one or two items, but actually going in, loading a shopping cart and running out of the store with a shopping cart full of property,” said Sgt. Greg Yotsuya with the Ceres Police Department.
Police say the operation run by Travis Garvin, 36, revolved around thieves who would steal items and hand them over to Garvin who would then sell them online. Garvin would make $500 a day and the thieves would get 25 cents per dollar.
“There were a couple of instances where they were confronted by loss prevention and they would grab an item with a hammer or an ax, something that they were actually stealing from the store and use it as a weapon to try and fend off loss prevention,” he said Yostuya.
Detectives said Garvin ran the illegal business from inside his garage. The $250,000 worth of stolen items ranged from power tools and video games to water heaters and even protein powder.
“I think it’s pretty crazy. I can’t believe people are doing that,” said Ceres resident Miguel Perez.
Police said illegal online businesses are hard to shut down because it’s tough to determine if an item is stolen or not.
Local retailers have beefed-up security and are taking a proactive approach, which is sitting well with customers.
“I think they did a good job capturing him and letting people know that, it’s not right,” said Perez.
Garvin has been charged with possession of stolen property. Police have also arrested a second man believed to be stealing for him.