5 people indicted in pawn shop theft scheme

Posted at 5:00 PM, Apr 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-07 07:13:05-04

Five people have been indicted by a Harford County grand jury on multiple counts of theft and theft scheme. 

According to the Harford County Sheriff's Office, owners and employees of two pawn shops are accused of selling nearly new, unopened, stolen goods. 

Three individuals were arrested from Associated Pawnbrokers - James Franklin Baker, Charlotte Freda Wolf, and Edward Thomas Wolf. James Clay Mills and Jeffery Andrew Ledergerber were arrested from Starlite Coin & Pawn. 

“I am proud of the tenacity of the detectives to follow this case to a successful conclusion, that not only holds those who stole the items accountable, but holds the businesses accountable who aided them in their crimes, by purchasing of stolen goods," sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said. "After a thorough review of these cases, I am certain this is one more by-product of the heroin epidemic that has a hold on our community. Each of the original theft suspects are admitted addicts who stole to support their addiction. We will do whatever it takes to hold those responsible who participate in criminal activity and prey on the vulnerability of those living with addiction.”

The five suspects were arrested after a nearly 18-month investigation by Harford County Sheriff's Office detectives. Detectives were suspicious of the  pawn shops after deputies charged a man in 21 incidents of retail theft that occurred in 2015.

Over a 10-month period, detectives recovered $50,000 of stolen new and unopened merchandise the suspects sold to local pawn shops. 

The investigation revealed two other individuals, operating as a team, sold nearly new, unopened, stolen goods to the same pawn shops. Detectives were able to recover $20,000 of merchandise in the 30-day period.

According to investigators, nearly 10 retailers were victims of the thefts, including Home Depot, Lowes, Walter G. Coale, Inc., Sears, Target and the Mill of Bel Air.