San Francisco investigators recover more than $2 million worth of stolen goods

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Laptops, tablets, phones, and purses were just some of the stolen items on display at the San Francisco District Attorney's Office on Thursday.

The DA's Office along with several San Francisco law enforcement agencies revealed the results of Operation Focus Lens which disrupted a large scale fencing operation. It was the third in a series of takedowns that previously included Operation Wrecking Ball and Operation Tangled Web.

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Officials say the stolen goods came from retail theft, car break-ins, and package theft. In some instances, the criminals were wrapping stolen cell phones in aluminum foil in an effort to mask the signals and avoid detection.

The recovered items included cell phones, cameras, laptops, tablets, purses, and even toiletries, all totaling more than $2 million.

"It breaks your heart," said Chief William Scott.

Heartbreaking because nearly all of the items belong to someone.

"Just the way that we rely on digital devices now, have a lot of our personal things on there, having that taken away just is devastating," said South San Francisco resident Matthew Wong.

Noel Ng who is an East Bay resident knows the feeling. She's had her phone stolen twice.

Her solution is to hide it in her tall zip-up boot.

"I just tuck it up in here it usually works really well. No one can get close enough to me to actually get my phone and if they do I will kick them," said Ng.

Investigators say Operation Focus Lens is unprecedented in terms of the level of collaboration by law enforcement and the sheer volume and dollar amount of what they recovered.

"What creates an incentive to break into cars or homes is if you can quickly turn whatever you stole into money and a fencing operation makes that possible," said San Francisco Interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus.

30 search warrants were executed, turning up an electronic chop shop of sorts where the criminals took apart phones and laptops for parts to sell online.

One location investigators honed in on consistently mailed an unusually high number of packages out of state.

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It's not unusual to see multiple car break-ins in San Francisco, but investigators say the stolen goods were also coming from retail stores.

Officers raided a storage facility that belonged to one suspect and found $750,000 worth of tagged clothing.

Investigators say arrests were made but they're not ready to share that information yet.

SFPD wants to hear from the rightful owners of all the items recovered. Some might look more familiar than others like the laptops covered in stickers.

Even for the ones not personalized, whatever information you can share with police, be it a serial number or anything else, they'll do their best to determine whether they have it.

You can call 628-652-4343.

The investigation is ongoing.
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