CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. Jan 27 2017 State police say five people participated in a crime ring that stole items from Lowe’s home improvement stores in New York and Massachusetts then returned the items for cash at a local store in the nationwide chain.
Troopers said the ring stole from stores as far away as Rome and Norwich, N.Y., as well as Springfield, Mass., using distraction techniques or waiting until cashiers were busy with customers to walk out with shopping carts filled with high-priced items to a vehicle waiting in the parking lot. They would then return the stolen merchandise to the Lowe’s located in the town of Halfmoon in exchange for gift cards.
Troopers estimate the group stole more than $140,000 worth of merchandise over several months.
The first two suspects were arrested Jan. 11, after state police said they observed a shopping cart full of merchandise being returned to the Halfmoon store by two men who went into the store while two other people remained in a vehicle. Troopers said they quickly determined the merchandise being returned had been stolen from a Lowe’s in Springfield, Massachusetts, just a few hours earlier.
Domiyon J. Taylor, 32, of Schenectady, and Michael W. McCullough, 53, of Amsterdam, were arrested, troopers said, while the two others were pawns used for their identification to assist in the returns and were not charged. Taylor was charged with two counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, but troopers said he has also been identified from surveillance video as several other Lowe’s thefts and will face additional charges.
McCullough, meanwhile, was charged with three counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. Both men were arraigned in Halfmoon Town Court, with Taylor sent to the Saratoga County jail without bail and McCullough order held on $7,500 cash bail or $15,000 bond.
Just five days later, on Monday, troopers said Lowe’s security members observed another full shopping cart of merchandise being returned to the Halfmoon store. Troopers said they determined the merchandise being returned had again been stolen just a few hours earlier, this time for a Lowe’s in Utica, by two men who were waiting in the parking lot while two women tried to return the stolen items.
While one of the women was released after troopers said they again determined she was being used for her identification only to assist in the return of the stolen merchandise, they did arrest Samuel J. Gilbert, 31, of Schenectady, Thomas P. Dashnaw, 46, of Schenectady, and Sarah C. Travis, 21, of Clifton Park.
Gilbert was charged with three counts each of third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, but troopers said surveillance video identified him as a partoicipant in several other Lowe’s thefts and will face additional charges.
Dashnaw, meanwhile, was charged with two counts of third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, but also will face additional charges in other thefts, and Travis was charged with two counts of third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, as well as a single count of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. All three were arraigned in Halfmoon Town Court, with Dashnaw jailed without bail, Gilbert ordered held on $20,000 cash bail or $40,000 bond and Travis sent to jail with bail set at $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond.
All five suspects are scheduled to return to court, while troopers said their investigation is continuing and additional arrests are possible.