Through an elaborate merchandise-returning scheme, a couple from Brewster stole about $33,000 worth of items from a dozen Home Depots across Fairfield and New Haven counties, Connecticut State Police said.
Kenneth Mathews, 31, and Marissa Ghiazza, 28, both of Brewster and formerly of Bridgeport, were arrested Friday on warrants after a 3-month-long investigation by state police.
In the scheme, Mathews and Ghiazza would go into a Home Depot store, take a high-priced item off the shelf and head to the return counter with the item and an old receipt, state police said.
They were then reimbursed with store credit, which they then used to buy the same item at that store or another Home Depot, state police said.
From there, they pawned the purchased item for cash, state police said. They saved the receipt from that purchase and continued the scheme, state police said.
The two pawned many of the items at East Coast Pawn shop in Bridgeport, state police said.
They committed a number of the crimes together, often with a baby along, according to video surveillance tapes obtained by state police.
Mathews made a total of 87 fraudulent refunds, including many with for high-priced Dyson vacuum cleaners, state police said.
The stores hit by the two are in Bridgeport, Danbury, Derby, Fairfield, Hamden, New Milford, North Haven, Norwalk, Orange, Stratford, Trumbull, and Waterbury.
The scheme continued from January 2016 to January 2017, state police said.
Mathews was charged with first-degree larceny, first-degree conspiracy to commit larceny, organized retail theft and conspiracy to commit organized retail theft. He was held on $25,000 bond. State police said he was responsible for $30,000 worth of thefts.
Ghiazza was charged with first-degree conspiracy to commit larceny, third-degree larceny, organized retail theft and conspiracy to commit organized retail theft. She was released on $10,000 bond for a May 4 court date in Bridgeport. State police said she was responsible for $3,000 worth of thefts.