Police bust another electronics fencing operation

January 14, 2013 6:54:08 PM PST
San Francisco police have busted what they believe to be a big fencing ring. Smartphones and laptops were among the items police recovered on December 27 in one of the biggest hauls of stolen electronics they've ever seen.

The bust was the second huge bust police made in a period of two months. In November, they recovered more than a thousand items worth up to half a million dollars from another fencing ring. Cellphones, laptops, as well as other expensive items were among the goods recovered. Three people were arrested.

In the past three months, San Francisco police have made a huge dent in their crackdown on suspected fences for stolen electronics. The fences are the people thieves turn to to sell their hot items.

Lt. Ed Santos says it's a lucrative business in the underground marketplace. "There's so much money to be made off laptops and cellphones. I mean, the market for them is really good. An iPad, for example, could go anywhere from $300 to $500. The new iPhone 5s are being resold for $500."

In both cases, most of the goods were stolen from cars parked in garages along Fisherman's Wharf. Spotters waited until drivers put their valuables in the trunk. When they left, the thieves would break into the cars.

In the most recent case, it was during a theft at a garage on Stockton Street where police got a big break. "We were able to look at some video surveillance and during the process of the investigation, we were able to determine that the property stolen from this location was taken to a location on Yale Street," said Santos.

Police arrested Hung Huynh and Heriberto Cardenas at a house in the Excelsior District. Huynh had been busted before in October. Police say Cardenas helped send the items to Mexico.

According to Santos, the suspected fences moved the hot electronic items quickly. "The ability to get these types of electronic equipment, erase them or clean them as they would speak, and get them out and ready for the market is just a matter of maybe an hour or two. I mean it's that quick."

Santos said most end up in weekend flea markets like the one near Laney College.

Police said they'll contact the owners of the goods when they've been able to identify all the stolen items. The problem is many of the electronics were erased, making it hard, if not impossible, to identify them.


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