RIVERDALE, Utah — It was an exciting day at The Home Depot in Riverdale, as about $5,000 worth of stolen goods were returned thanks to the Utah Attorney Generals Office.
The office began looking into possible pawnshop schemes happening along the Wasatch Front in 2018. Since the investigation started, more than $1.2 million worth of stolen goods still in the packaging have been seized from several different stores.
The first store to have their goods returned was The Home Depot on Friday.
“It is really nice to actually give stuff back," said James Russell, a supervising special agent with the AG's office.
The owners of Big Dog Pawn and Jewelry in Murray were arrested and charged in connection to the operation. Seven pawn shops in total are being investigated for knowingly buying stolen goods. There was a lot of undercover work done in this operation.
“When you are bringing in two brand new drills, setting them on the counter and saying you want 30 percent of the value of those, it really would require some more vetting and questioning that really didn't happen in these cases," Russell said.
The opioid epidemic has a lot to do with these crimes, Russell said.
“So they went in, they didn’t spend any money in the Home Depot, they grabbed the product, they came out. So they don’t really care what they get for it other than the fact that then can pay for their heroin, meth, whatever they are buying," he said.
Paul Richards, the Home Depot asset protection manager, said they are stolen from just about every day. They don't often get the goods back.
“We are looking forward to this type of event happening more and more in the future," Richards said.
As he watched the merchandized returned he said, “It is a beautiful thing!"
More than a dozen people have been arrested and charged for the thefts. The Home Depot is just one of several stores impacted by the pawnshop scheme.