LEOMINSTER (CBS) — The owner of a video store in Leominster has been arrested for allegedly hiring dozens of shoplifters to steal items from numerous stores that he later sold on his person eBay and Amazon accounts.
John Duplease, who owns Adopt A Video on Central Street, is being charged by Leominster police for aggravated organized retail crime, being the leader of an organized retail crime, and receiving stolen property valued above $1,200.READ MORE: Jerry Remy 'Resting Comfortably' At Hospital After Experiencing 'Shortness Of Breath' During Red Sox Telecast Friday
The arrest was a part of year-long investigation into Duplease for Organized Retail Crime.
Duplease allegedly hired over 26 “boosters” to steal items at stores such as Home Depot, Target, Lowe’s, Walmart, CVS, Stop & Shop, and Hannaford’s. Police said the “boosters” were drug addicts and shoplifters, and Duplease paid them via a cash payout.
“He was taking stolen property that people were bringing him. A lot of prolific shop lifters and drug addicts,” said Leominster Police Chief Aaron Kennedy. “They basically are people that are known shoplifters. Basically, that’s their job. And then there’s people that are drug users that take this money, they take this stolen property, to buy more drugs.”
After the items were stolen, they were allegedly given to Duplease, who then sold them on his private eBay and Amazon accounts.
In total, police believe Duplease made over $1 million in sales from the stolen items. He was arrested after police secured a search warrant and raided his Adopt A Video store, along with his home in Lancaster.READ MORE: Woburn Man Shot In Neck; Police Say Shooting May Have Been 'Accidental Or Unintentional'
Nearly 1,700 items were seized at the video store that’s been a fixture in the community, but police say it became a front for a criminal enterprise.
More than 4,600 additional stolen items were seized from his lakefront home in Lancaster. Police say they ran the gamut from games to tools to home appliances, and were stolen by individuals known as boosters.
The activity around the store did not go unnoticed by other nearby businesses.
“They did definitely seem shady. I mean the way you just pull in random vehicles every single day, so it wasn’t the same people,” said one man who did not want to be identified. “And then things move in and out, so it’s kind of suspicious.
Police estimate that the stolen merchandise they found have a combined worth of over $500,000. Cash was also found at each location.MORE NEWS: Steamship Authority Website Running Again After Ransomware Attack Last Week
Duplease has been released on bail.