What to Know
- A Lowe's retail crime manager caught wind of the alleged scheme and notified authorities, who launched an investigation
- Cops say enough stolen merchandise was seized from the couple's New Jersey home to fill an 18-foot trailer
- The duo allegedly tried to have nearly $26K in items sent without paying; the wife is accused of exploiting weaknesses in the Lowe's website
A New Jersey couple has been arrested for allegedly exploiting a glitch in the Lowe's home improvement store website to have merchandise -- from a gazebo to a lawn mower and $2,500 worth of Victoria's Secret underwear -- shipped to their Brick Township home without paying.
Romela and Kimy Velazquez allegedly tried to have nearly $260,000 in Lowe's items sent to their home, and managed to receive nearly $13,000 worth of merchandise without paying before the alleged fraud was uncovered.
According to prosecutors, who announced the arrests Tuesday, a Lowe's retail crime manager alerted authorities to the alleged scheme, which 24-year-old Romela Velazquez is accused of orchestrating.
Romela Velazquez took advantage of "weaknesses" in Lowe's website to have the items shipped, then posted photos of the stolen pieces to a local "Buy and Sell" Facebook group, often listing the items as "new" for half price, authorities allege. The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office release does not detail how the couple allegedly used the website to obtain the merchandise.
When a team of agencies searched the couple's Harding Drive home earlier this month, prosecutors say they recovered enough stolen merchandise to fill an 18-foot trailer. Detectives at the scene said the home looked more like a warehouse than a residence.
[NATL] Top News Photos: Pope Visits Japan, and More
According to authorities, bigger ticket items recovered new in boxes, or with tags still attached included:
- Stainless Steel Weber Grill
- Aluminum Gazebo
- Honda Lawn Mower
- LG Portable Air Conditioner
- Dewalt Power Washer
- Multiple Boxes of Ugg shoes
- 70” Vizio LED Smart TV
- Sony Stereo Surround Sound System with 4 speakers
- Nikon D5000 Camera
- 3 Dyson Ball Vacuum Cleaners
- Multiple boxes of furniture (not put together)
- About $2,500 worth of Victoria's Secret underwear
Romela Velazquez was taken into custody and released Aug. 4 after her first court appearance on charges of computer criminal activity and theft by deception. Her 40-year-old husband is charged with receipt of stolen property and fencing, which means he is accused of knowingly buying stolen goods in order to resell them for a profit.
Attorney information for the husband and wife wasn't immediately available.