Drug addicts are shoplifting to get cash to pay for their habits.
Crammed in one room, investigators found stacks of boxes brimming with cosmetics, diet pills, razors and toothbrushes — all believed stolen by drug addicts then sold to a Taunton man for a fraction of the cost.
The stolen goods, valued at $100,000 and recovered after a 11/2-month investigation, provide a glimpse of the far-reaching price of drug addiction1/2 in the region, said Raynham Police Chief Louis J. Pacheco.
“If you are doing drugs and you’re not a rock star, you are either dealing, stealing or hooking,” Pacheco said.
The Raynham investigation — led by Detective David LaPlante — uncovered a ring of shoplifting drug addicts throughout the region who were targeting pharmacies, such as CVS, and other stores, Pacheco said.
The addicts then sold the items to a Taunton man for 25 cents on the dollar who then resold the items at flea markets and on eBay, Pacheco said.
Raynham filed paperwork in Taunton District Court charging a Taunton school janitor — Michael D. Brennan, 43, of 8R Monroe St., Taunton — with eight counts of conspiracy to commit the crime of attempting to receive stolen property over $250. He is set to appear in court at a later date.
Raynham, Taunton and CVS loss prevention investigators, armed with a search warrant, went to the suspect’s house last week, Pacheco said.
Brennan is a janitor at the Maxham School in Taunton, School Superintendent Julie Hackett confirmed Wednesday. He has been working for the school department since 1987.
She declined to say what action, if any, would be taken by the school department in light of the investigation. “We can’t comment,” she said. “We are certainly investigating the matter.”
Attempts to reach Brennan for comment were unsuccessful. No one answered the door at his home, and a message left on his door was not returned.
Authorities uncovered the theft ring after several people were caught shoplifting and told police they were selling the goods to a man in Taunton, Pacheco said.
As part of the probe, an undercover police agent posed as a drug addict and sold items to the suspect, he said.
The goods were taken from 28 stores, “some as far away as Saugus,” he said.
Investigators were able to track the sale of $46,000 worth of goods on eBay under the account name, “silvercitycomics,” used by the suspect, Pacheco said.
The online sales were made to every state — except Alaska — and as far away as China, Pacheco said.
The thieves would steal hot-selling items, such as the diet pill Alli, then bring them to the suspect to sell, he said.
“Dozens were stealing for him,” Pacheco said.
When police raided the Taunton home, investigators found so many items some had to be left behind.
“It was from the floor to almost the ceiling,” the chief said.
He said investigators believe the ring has been in operation since 2004.
Shoplifting nationwide is up 200 percent in the last year — the bulk of the thefts believed tied to drug addiction — and the cost is passed on to consumers, Pacheco said.
Boxes of items recovered by police lined a table at the Raynham police station. Other plastic bins filled with goods were tucked against a wall.
Pacheco motioned to the piles of goods Wednesday.
“This is the cost of drug addiction to the public,” he said.
Maureen Boyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.