The police investigation began when a corporate-fraud investigator for a chain of home-improvement stores contacted the LBPD in December of 2011 regarding a number of thefts and fraudulent purchases committed by various suspects at their stores. The incidents had occurred at their locations throughout southern California and involved the loss of expensive tools and construction equipment, which were later put up for sale online and at swap meets. The investigators contacted LBPD after they had identified a possible key suspect in the investigation as a Long Beach resident.
With the information that the corporate investigators provided and after additional investigation of their own, LBPD Forgery/Fraud detectives served a search warrant at the suspect’s residence on the 1000 block of Cherry Avenue. The search revealed a large amount of tools and equipment stored at the home and inside two vans owned by the suspect.
Investigators were able to trace the items, collectively valued at approximately $200,000, back to the chain store. Of that amount, $40,000 worth of the unopened merchandise will be able to be returned to the store for sale, one of the largest recoveries of stolen merchandise the chain store has been able to recoup.
The suspect, identified as 40-year-old Long Beach resident Juan Carlos Estrada, was arrested for receiving stolen property and is being held at Long Beach City Jail.
Various suspects were involved in committing the thefts and making fraudulent purchases of the merchandise by using stolen credit cards. These suspects would then sell the items to Estrada, who would resell them for a profit. The suspects who provided the stolen property are still outstanding.
Although the investigation is ongoing, so far, detectives have been able to determine that the suspect received in excess of $353,000 from the sale of these stolen items in the past three years.
Anyone who may have information about this case is asked to contact LBPD Forgery/Fraud Detective Stacey Holdredge at (562) 570-7330. Anonymous tips via text or web may be submitted by visiting tipsoft.com.