Crime and Courts

Not ‘Just Shoplifting:' 41 Snared in $4 Million Luxury NYC Store Scheme

"This wasn’t just shoplifting, but people going into stores and clearing off shelves as part of an organized crime ring," the mayor said

NBC Universal, Inc.

Dozens of people were arrested after allegedly stealing from high-end stores and selling the goods in what New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York City mayor Eric Adams said was a multimillion-dollar theft and crime ring — one that Adams believes may be linked to more serious crimes.

In an indictment unsealed Thursday, 41 people were accused of playing roles in the scheme that involved swiping items ranging from luxury clothing and goods to thousands of things taken from drug stores, and then selling them on eBay, the attorney general's office stated. Bloomingdale's and Duane Reade locations were some of the stores impacted by the criminal enterprise.

"Today’s takedown of this massive retail theft operation is part of our continued efforts to combat crime and restore an environment where all New Yorkers feel secure," said James. "These individuals stole millions of dollars in luxury goods and cleared the shelves of drug stores in the communities we live and resold these goods for great profit."

During the three-year operation conducted by James' Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the NYPD's Grand Larceny Division, more than $3.8 million in stolen retail items was seized from the alleged ringleader of the operation, Roni Rubinov. There were also more than 550 stolen gift cards and over $300,000 in cash, according to the attorney general's office.

Display tables at a press conference were overflowing with some of the pilfered items. Some of the items stolen as part of the theft ring allegedly included:

  • Designer clothing, handbags, belts and shoes
  • Cosmetics
  • Over the counter medications
  • Tools and electronics
  • Coffee
  • More than 550 gift cards from about 60 different retailers, including Amazon, Home Depot, Walgreens, Visa, iTunes, Lowe's, Kmart, American Express and more

"Today we are showing that New York City will not tolerate crime — street crime, retail crime, or organized crime," said Mayor Adams. "Public safety is the prerequisite to prosperity, and so we want to be clear that we will investigate, arrest, and prosecute criminals when they break the law. This wasn’t just shoplifting, but people going into stores and clearing off shelves as part of an organized crime ring. This massive retail-theft scheme affected every level of our economy."

Through surveillance and analyzing financial records, the OCTF found that Rubinov and two alleged managers directed teams of career thieves to get them specific items since 2017, and have the items brought to two locations on West 47th Street in Manhattan. Rubinov and his associates would then purchase the stolen goods at a fraction of the price, and resell them for profit online, prosecutors said.

The goods would at one point be moved to either Rubinov's home or a stash house, both located in the Fresh Meadows neighborhood of Queens, before being brought back to midtown to be shipped. In 2019, Rubinov was said to have signed a lease for a large warehouse space in Fresh Meadows, where there were plans to open a "department store"-like facility that would be filled with stolen items.

In the five years of the ring's operation, nearly $1.4 million in stolen goods were sold out of the eBay shop, according to the attorney general's office. The investigation found that about 60 percent of the money made on eBay was reinvested back into the criminal enterprise, which allowed him to pay the thieves he employed, the AG's office said.

The money was allegedly filtered through Rubinov's PayPal account and then a bank account.

Those arrested face a variety of charges including enterprise corruption, money laundering, possession of stolen property, scheme to defraud and conspiracy. Nearly all face up to 25 years in prison for their respective roles in the scheme.

Contact Us