A two-month investigation into “swap shops” that sell discounted merchandise resulted in seven arrests and charges against five stores for receiving stolen property, according to an article in the Middletown Journal.
Undercover agents, along with security personnel from Lowe's and Sears, visited five swap shops on Sept. 8 to make “one final sale” of reportedly stolen merchandise, according to the report. After the sales, the officers immediately served a search warrant and found multiple power tools with the serial numbers removed, several GPS units, gas trimmers and electronic devices such as TVs and Blu-ray players.
In one incident, a spokesman for the Middletown Police said an undercover officer took merchandise into a shop with security tags, saying it was stolen property. The officer was told the shop could not accept merchandise with security tags, so the officer took the merchandise into the parking lot, removed the tag and returned to the shop to complete the transaction.
Swap shop employees were charged with various felonies and misdemeanors connected to receiving stolen property and violations of swap-shop regulations. One suspect, 28-year-old Wendell Wilson, allegedly warned some of the other establishments after the police served the first search warrant. Wilson was arrested for obstructing justice, a fifth-degree felony.