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Police & Fire

Leader Of $1M Shoplifting Ring Busted In Massachusetts, State Police Say

Some of the stolen goods seized by police.
Some of the stolen goods seized by police. Photo Credit: Massachusetts State Police

A months-long investigation led to the arrest of a Massachusetts man for running an alleged large shoplifting enterprise that earned him more than $1 million.

The investigation began in February 2020, when Trooper Joseph Hall made a traffic stop in Leominster which resulted in one of the vehicle’s occupants being arrested for outstanding warrants, said the Massachusetts State Police.

After the arrest, the rest of the occupants, including the boyfriend of the person arrested, were allowed to leave, according to police. 

A short time later a BOLO was issued for the same vehicle regarding a shoplifting incident at the Home Depot in Leominster, police said.

An investigation revealed that the boyfriend had gone to the Home Depot and stolen cordless drill batteries which were exchanged at “Adopt A Video” in Leominster for bail money for his girlfriend, police said.

The traffic stop by Hall led him to begin an investigation into the “Adopt A Video” store. 

With assistance from Massachusetts Crime Analyst Carol Fitzgerald, a Task Force was formed in conjunction with Leominster Police, as well as area retail stores security officers.

From February to August 2020, the task force identified numerous “boosters”, or persons involved in theft activity, selling stolen items to “Adopt A Video”. 

Many of the “boosters” provided statements to Leominster and State Police broadening the scope of the investigation.

Following the statements made to police, undercover officers began selling items to “Adopt A Video” under the pretenses that the items had been stolen from local retailers, police said. 

The items were bought and then resold on the internet by the owner of “Adopt A Video”, John Duplease, age 66, of Lancaster, said police.

Over the course of the investigation, 26 “boosters” were identified as contributors to his criminal enterprise, police said.

On Saturday, May 8, Duplease was arrested, as well as an employee from the store. 

During the arrest, more than 1,695 stolen items were seized from the store in Leominster, and 4,609 items were recovered from the Duplease's home, according to police.

Some of the items included four vehicles: a Tesla, Jeep, Chevy Camaro, and Chevy Silverado; as well as 27 firearms. 

Additionally, a “Ten Point” crossbow confirmed to be stolen from Cabela’s in Berlin, and $15,000 in cash was found inside the home.

It is estimated that between $200,000 and $300,000 of the stolen merchandise was recovered, police said. 

Within the past three years, Duplease made over $1 million from the sale of stolen merchandise, according to police.

Duplease was charged with:

  • Aggravated organized retail crime over $10,000;
  • Leader of an organized retail crime ring;
  • Receiving stolen property over $1,200; and
  • Improper storage of a firearm.

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