SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It is one of the largest seizures of stolen goods found inside a San Francisco apartment, according to police.
Investigators say the man in his late 30s had nearly $200,000 worth of retail items which were then sold on eBay.
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The doors to an old courtroom opened to reveal a textbook example of an organized retail theft fencing operation. If you're amazed by the amount of stolen goods, so were we--primarily because, San Francisco police say, only one person ran the show.
"We're suspecting they're probably making upwards of half a million dollars a year," said Lieutenant Scott Ryan.
It was an four-month investigation conducted by the Burglary Unit and the Organized Retail Theft Taskforce.
"You're looking at a lot of over-the-counter medications, beauty products, the things you would basically find in your CVS, Walgreens, that type of store, he added as he showed us some of the items recovered.
In the past few years, we've seen other cases of people shoplifting large quantities of items off the shelves. They are called "Boosters."
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In this particular operation, investigators told us the suspect, who is called a "fence" would meet with the "boosters" in the mid-market neighborhood and Mission District.
"They're there meeting with him and off loading them to him as quickly as they can. No one wants to hold on to these stolen items very long," said Lt. Ryan.
The items were then sold online.
"In particular he seemed to like eBay, and sold them on eBay and then shipping all these things to customers that are buying it throughout the United States," he said.
Police arrested 38 year-old Sergio Manuel Puga-Tenorio of San Francisco at home. He was living in a rented single room in the St. Mary's neighborhood not far from Glen Park.
"Going inside, into the bedroom, those items were way more organized than they are right now. He had it set up like it was a storage for the back of a drug store," said Lt. Ryan.
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It was through the retailers that police were able to track him down. "He was very, I would say, open about what he does," he added.
Lt. Ryan believes taking out the so-called "fences" would be instrumental in reducing the number of retail thefts in the city.
"So for us, our job is to go after the fences. Take away the demand and that's who we need to go after, that's the one person that is constantly dealing with everybody," said Lt. Ryan.
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