Miami/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on April 15, 2024
Miami-Dade Home Depot Loss Prevention Officer Accused of Orchestrating Retail Theft RingSource: Google Street View

A Home Depot loss prevention officer was busted as the inside man in a brazen retail theft ring, the Miami-Dade Police Department said Monday.

In a months-long probe dubbed Operation Hammer Down, cops collared 37-year-old Lazaro Dunier Echevarria, who they say masterminded a steal-and-sell operation right under his employer's nose. His partners in crime, Jose Bello-Valdez and Yoannys Montano-Solano, both 44, allegedly aided in swiping merchandise across Miami-Dade Home Depots before flipping the goods online, NBC Miami reported.

Authorities claim Echevarria would stash pricey items like power tools in boxes meant for cheaper products, such as trash cans or vanities. This enabled Bello-Valdez to waltz out of stores undetected, with the stolen goods later offloaded to Montano-Solano for a quick profit online. According to an arrest report obtained by Local 10, the swiped merchandise also included kitchen cabinets and various power tools, which were sold on platforms such as Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp at steep discounts.

The scheme came to light after an elderly gentleman spotted Bello-Valdez pilfering items on Nov. 3, 2023, at a Kendall Home Depot and alerted the management. An off-duty cop also gave chase when Bello-Valdez took flight, but despite the pursuit, Bello-Valdez initially got away. Echevarria witnessed the entire fiasco but merely filed an internal report without contacting police, raising eyebrows about his intentions, the arrest report detailed.

Searches conducted by law enforcement at two locations turned up around 1,240 items worth over $260,000, some still in original packaging, officials said. The trio is now facing a slew of charges including grand theft, organized fraud, and dealing in stolen property as they sit in Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center awaiting bond, according to police records.

Miami-Crime & Emergencies