Orange Police Chief Robert Gagne addresses the media and onlookers.
On Monday, Orange Police Chief Robert Gagne announced that three suspects were arrested in a string of robberies at Radio Shack Stores in Orange and seven other communities. The brazen group of thieves all in their early 20s also hit an AT&T and Verizon stores since January, stealing about 400 smart phones and other small electronics valued at around $300,000.
See VIDEO HERE.
The five month investigation included the FBI, Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the New Haven, Orange, Trumbull, East Haven, Hamden, Wallingford, Clinton and New Britain Police Departments. representatives from each agency attended the press conference in front of the Boston Post Road Radio Shack in Orange.
Two suspects exit the Orange store on May 11.
For Orange, the trouble started with an attempted robbery at the Radio Shack on April 29. Less than two weeks later, on May 11, the thieves returned around 10:05 a.m., concealing their identities with masks and hoods. The man and woman both wore gloves. They ordered the lone employee to the ground. A weapon was neither displayed nor implied.
The woman went to a storage area in the rear of the store, then demanded the keys to a storage locker and the employee complied.
They fled with about 50 smart phones, in a waiting getaway car described as a 2000 or 2001 Black Honda Accord 2 door, with medium tinted windows. The front license plate was covered with plastic and the rear plate with a piece of cardboard.
The employee was uninjured. Video from this robbery was analyzed and used in the investigation with other law enforcement agencies.
New Haven Det. Sgt Robert Lawlor, Jr, with Orange Detective Chris Chiarelli by his side, answers questions for the media.
In several cases, the thieves were armed with guns and threatened employees, forcing them to the back of the store before tying them up with duct tape and taking what they wanted to the getaway car.
Detective Sergeant Robert Lawlor of the New Haven Police Department, fielded the reporters’ questions at the press conference. “Law enforcement officials executed several search and seizure warrants last week, handguns have been recovered. Witnesses from five of the robberies reported seeing a weapon used.
“They were after small electronics, but mostly smart phones. So, Apple, Samsung, HTCs. The ones everyone’s looking for. They are quick commodity to get rid of on the street. And, they were making pretty good money.” He added, “It’s a combinations, mostly black market secondhand dealers operating improperly throughout the state and on the internet, Craigslist, eBay.”
Police used forensic evidence, surveillance videos, witnesses and tips to crack the case.
Of the investigation, Orange Police Detective Chris Chiarelli told Orange Live, “Thankfully we had many different agencies, bringing many different talents and skills together and it allows us to take advantage of certain resources that each individual could bring to the table. So combining all that into one investigation really helped us move forward quickly once preliminary information was developed to point us in the right direction.”
Did detectives ever think that a store employee was involved, or that it was an inside job? “Initially you have to look at all avenues and all parties involved,” Chiarelli said. “We were able to rule that out fairly quickly once we saw the same crime occurring at Radio Shacks in different areas.”
“This particular investigation was pretty smooth,” Lawlor said. “Everybody set aside their egos and worked as a team to accomplish what we needed to accomplish to get this ring under arrest and in custody.”
“So many resources were dedicated to this investigation because we were worried as these robberies multiplied sooner or later someone was going to get hurt. So we worked very diligently before something like that could happen,” Gagne said. “The message is clear that if these individuals are going to engage in this kind of activity, we will work together to bring you to justice and hold you accountable.”
The Radio Shack Robbers, 3 caught, 1 on the loose.
Officials currently believe the ring of suspects is limited to five or six people. The stores were perceived as valuable targets due to their high concentration of small electronics, according to Lawlor.
Orange police provided this Chronology of events:
• Trumbull, CT on January 27, 2013.
• East Haven, CT on February 5
• Hamden, CT on February 26
• Wallingford, CT on February 28
• New Haven, CT on April 18 (Verizon Store)
• Orange, CT on April 29 (Attempted robbery)
• Orange, CT on May 11
• Clinton, CT on May 14
• New Haven, CT on May 14 (Attempted robbery)
• New Britain, CT on May 16
• East Haven, CT (Unknown date at AT&T Store)
After the execution of five search & seizure warrants, three arrests have been made in the heists.
On June 4, Lorraine Nicole Outlaw, 20, and Forenza Rakeem Murphy, 21, both of 416 Gregory St., 2nd Floor, Bridgeport, were charged by the Orange Police with second-degree robbery, first-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit second-degree robbery and unlawful restraint. Each was held on $500,000 bond.
On June 14, Clinton Police arrested Michael Salvatore Carbonell, 22, of 321 Burr St., New Haven, in Milford. Carbonell was charged with second-degree robbery, first-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit second-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny. He was held on $250,000 bond.
The fourth suspect, Demetrius “Polo” Wilkes, 22, of unknown address, (Past addresses: : 3 Crofton St, New Haven, 221 English St, New Haven or 672 Newhall ST, Hamden) is still at large and police are diligently searching for him. The Trumbull Police Department holds an arrest warrant charging first-degree robbery and first-degree larceny.
Wilkes is 6’2″ 190 lbs, black hair brown eyes and may be driving a blue 2000 BMW 328i, CT REG 852-ZVE.
If you see him, use caution as he may be in possession of a handgun. Call Lawlor immediately with any information at 203-379-6517 or 203-946-6304 ext 1358.