Members of a task force in Southern California confiscated stolen trademarked plastic products worth more than $115,000 and arrested nine people in a Jan. 2 conclusion to a multimonth investigation.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's industrial plastic theft task force said it found stolen material both at Broadway Plastics in South El Monte and, 18 miles away, a residence in Lynwood providing storage. Broadway Plastics had intact plastic trays and gaylords of granulated material and was priming ground resins for sale.
Those under arrest for allegedly receiving stolen property include five family members, three employees and the business owner, according to Sgt. Nabeel Mitry, supervisor of the five-person task force.
Over 16 months, the task force has forwarded cases to prosecutors' offices in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. “They understand the problem, have been supportive and have almost 100 percent success” in obtaining convictions, Mitry said. Investigators need to testify in the cases, however, taking time away from their field surveillance work.
Mitry noted, “The thieves are becoming more clever,” monitoring the movement of task force members and implementing complex logistical and diversion tactics in how and where they store and grind the stolen products.
The council for City of Industry, Calif., provided the task force with $1.2 million for a trial program, but those funds are nearly exhausted.
Since the program began in September 2011, the task force has recovered intact and granulated plastic products with a value of more than $6.7 million, Mitry said.
As for future investigative efforts, “it is 100 percent on the shoulders of the City of Industry if they choose to do it,” Mitry said.
“I am hopeful they will do it.”
The task force is based at a sheriff's station in City of Industry.