LONG BEACH — A 40-year-old Long Beach man has been arrested for fraud after being found with $200,000 worth of tools and construction equipment stolen from a chain of home improvement stores, police said late Thursday.
The suspect, identified as Juan Carlos Estrada, was booked on suspicion of receiving stolen property at the Long Beach City Jail on Wednesday and is being held without bail, according to his booking information.
Long Beach Police detectives launched their investigation in December 2011 after a chain of home improvement stores reported a number of thefts and fraudulent purchases by various suspects, said Lisa Massacani, a police department spokeswoman.
The incidents occurred at stores throughout Southern California and involved the loss of expensive tools and construction equipment, which were later sold online and at swap meets, Massacani said.
Investigators working for the chain of stores contacted the Long Beach Police Department after they identified a key suspect in the scheme, who was a Long Beach resident, the spokeswoman explained.
Working with the information provided by the corporate investigators and using leads gleaned by their own investigation, LBPD detectives on Wednesday served a search warrant at the suspect's home in the 1000 block of Cherry Avenue. The search uncovered a large stash of stolen tools and equipment inside the home and inside two vans owned by the suspect, Massacani said.
"Of that amount, $40,000 worth of unopened merchandise will be ... returned to the store for sale, one of the largest recoveries of stolen merchandise the chain store has been able to recoup," Massacani said.
Although the investigation is ongoing, detectives confirmed the suspect made more than $353,000 from the sale of the stolen merchandise over the past three years, she said.
Police are still searching for the other suspects, who either stole the items or used stolen credit cards to purchase the merchandise turned over to Estrada, who allegedly resold them at a profit, Massacani said.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Forgery and Fraud Detective Stacey Holdredge at 562-570-7330. Anonymous tips can be sent via text or email at www.tipsoft.com.