Theft ring bust seen as key to larceny decline
Police credit the arrest and prosecution of several members of a stolen-goods ring with helping bring about a city-wide decline in theft cases.
Property crimes detectives last spring charged a total of seven people in connection with a shoplifting and fencing operation that took in more than $100,000 worth of stolen merchandise.
One of the leaders of the operation, Marcus Devin Riffe, 38, of Meyers Street in Archdale, pleaded guilty earlier this month to organized retail theft, a felony that involves conspiring with others to commit theft with the intent of selling or fencing the stolen property. Riffe, who was sentenced to a three-year probation term, allegedly operated a warehouse on Tower Avenue that bought and sold items that were shoplifted from local retail stores.
Larcenies in the city declined 17 percent last year (from 3,590 to 2,974) compared to 2011, according to unofficial High Point Police Department data. Authorities said they think the cases they brought against Riffe and his co-defendants had a significant impact on the numbers.
“He was a significant fence of stolen property that drove a lot of the larcenies, because it was such a quick trip over to his warehouse from our major retailers,” said police Chief Marty Sumner. “Busting him pretty much accounted for that massive reductions in larcenies right there, because the shoplifters didn’t have the ease of the fence available.”
Riffe’s co-defendants who have pleaded guilty include:
• Brittany M. Allen, 26, who is serving 18 months probation.
• Tracey J. Garrard, 25, who is serving up to 18 months in state prison.
• Paula M. Kindley, 40, who is serving up to two years in state prison.
• Ramona Welch, 37, who is serving up to 29 months in state prison.
Other co-defendants with charges of organized retail theft still pending include Darren Riffe and Barbara Riffe, the brother and mother, respectively, of Marcus Riffe, according to authorities.
During their investigation, police raided locations in High Point, Archdale and Thomasville and seized large quantities of shoplifted goods, including over-the-counter medications, makeup, DVD players, clothing, liquid laundry detergent, razor blades, shampoo and small power tools. The items were traced back to local retail stores, including including Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy, Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods.