NEWNAN, Ga. - Coweta County authorities have busted a suspected theft ring targeting Home Depot stores nationwide.
Deputies say they seized two minivans full of large plastic storage bins. Those bins were stolen from The Home Depot store in Newnan, investigators say. Inside, the bins were packed with stolen tools and batteries. Forty-seven items were seized totaling more than $9,000 in store merchandise.
"The individuals who put the items in the totes, sealed the totes, put them in a shopping cart, and then go by all points of sale. Once they go past all points of sale, they would run to their vehicles, put the totes in their vehicles, and then flee the area," said Coweta County Sheriff’s Deputy Antonio Vives.
The investigation started when a Newnan police investigator suspected the thefts and followed the minivans and contacted the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies arrived and pulled over the vans. Investigators say five people are responsible for thefts at various Home Depot stores across the nation totaling more than $300,000 in merchandise.
"So, there were two mini vans, each minivan had two individuals in it, and there was also one individual who was identified as a sort of ring leader, who went out and identified what objects he wanted stolen. And the other four individuals would put the items in the totes and they would actually commit the theft," said Deputy Vives.
That accused ring leader has been identified as Alfonso Matias Vega. Deputies say he is a suspect in thefts in several states. He and the rest of the four are charged with felony shoplifting.