Brick Township couple allegedly ran stolen goods stash house
A Brick Township husband and wife, who allegedly plumbed the Lowes Home Improvement Center web site for vulnerable spots, are accused of accumulating well over $250,000 worth of items shipped to and stored in their house - unpaid - and investigators suspect that more retailers have been victimized.
Romela Velazquez, 24, and Kimy Velazquez, 40, had enough stolen hardware and household goods in their Harding Drive house to fill an 18-foot trailer, according to a spokesman for Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato. Detectives who searched the house August 3 described as more of a warehouse than a home, authorities said.
A Lowes Organized Retail Crime manager reported suspicions to Brick Township police, who engaged the Prosecutor's Special Investigations Unit.
Romela Velazquez allegedly manipulated the site to have merchandise shipped to her house for free, and posted some of the items on an area Facebook group's buy-and-sell page, often describing them as "new in box" and offering them for half-price or less.
Among the confiscated items are:
- Weber stainless steel grill
- aluminum gazebo
- Honda lawn mower
- LG portable air conditioner
- Dewalt power washer
- variety of Ugg shoes
- 70” Vizio LED smart TV
- Sony stereo surround sound four-speaker system
- Nikon D5000 camera
- 3 Dyson ball vacuum cleaners
- multiple boxes of unassembled furniture
- approximately $2,500 worth of Victoria's Secret underwear
Romela Velazquez faces a second-degree count of computer criminal activity, a second-degree charge of theft by deception for trying to obtain merchandise valued at $258,068.01, and a third-degree theft by deception charge for receiving items valued at $12,971.23, all pre-tax.
Kimy Velazquez faces third-degree counts of receipt of stolen property and fencing. Both were released on a summonses to await a court date, in accord with New Jersey's reformed bail guidelines. Romela Velazquez was released subsequent to her initial court appearance.
Based on the discovery of the Ugg shoes and underwear, investigators are trying to determine whether any other merchants were caught in the operation.
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.