Philadelphia County Woman Charged for Orchestrating Identity and Retail Theft Scheme Targeting Stores throughout Southeast PA

April 4, 2019 | Topic: Criminal

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced criminal charges against a Philadelphia County woman for organizing and orchestrating an identity and retail theft scheme valued at more than $100,000 that stole from stores across Southeast Pennsylvania. Myra Reddy, 54, of North Opal Street, Philadelphia, was charged yesterday with corrupt organizations, theft by unlawful taking, retail theft, identity theft and other related charges.

An investigation revealed the scheme worked like this: Reddy, and others under her direction, stole merchandise from stores utilizing the “box stuffing” method. They would find an item for sale in a store that came in a large box and would remove the large item from inside the box and fill it with smaller, more expensive items from the store. Then they would go to check out, paying for the cheaper large item that used to be in the box. The thieves would later return the items that they had stuffed in the box, often using stolen identities to do so, and receive store credit that they would then sell at a discount to other members of the organization.

Reddy illegally used over 30 individuals’ identities, which she obtained through stolen ID cards, licenses and Social Security cards, in this criminal enterprise. She also used tax-exempt numbers from charitable organizations to avoid paying tax on the items she was “box stuffing.” Investigators found the defendant’s operation was responsible for over $100,000 worth of loss to Home Depots in Delaware, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Lancaster and Philadelphia counties from December 2016-present.

“This defendant stole innocent people’s identities and ran a criminal enterprise that caused significant loss to local businesses,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “She was ready to stuff her pockets at the expense of businesses and consumers, but thanks to strong law enforcement collaboration between the Tredyffrin Township Police, the Philadelphia Police Department, Home Depot Loss Prevention and my Organized Crime Section, we were able to shut this organization down by arresting its leader. Schemes like this cause costs to rise for Pennsylvania consumers, and we’re committed to taking them down.”

The investigation began after a routine traffic stop. The defendant presented a license, which was later determined through fingerprinting to be a false identity. A plastic bag lined with aluminum foil was also found inside the car—these are commonly known as “booster bags” and are used to prevent a store alarm from sounding, thereby avoiding detection of stolen items. Other items were found in the vehicle that are commonly used in a retail theft organization, including a few empty purses, a new vanity, a box containing dozens of new-in-box door handles, a box cutter, another driver’s license, and two big boxes stuffed with faucets, electronics, thermostats, LED signs, etc. Another PA license, a social security card and multiple receipts/gift card returns from Home Depot in Delaware County were also found in the defendant’s possession.

Police identified at least three individuals whose IDs were found in the defendant’s possession. All three confirmed their IDs had been lost or stolen and that no one had permission to use their identification.

Reddy has an extensive criminal history of retail theft and other charges, and this investigation is ongoing. Bail is set at $500,000 cash and the preliminary hearing for this defendant has been scheduled for April 12th. This case will be prosecuted by Chief Deputy Attorney General Erik Olsen.

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