DETROIT – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and deputies from the St. Clair County Sherriff’s Office arrested a New Jersey man and woman on state charges for their alleged involvement in a sophisticated retail-theft scheme.
Authorities arrested Faru Fernandez-Igua, 48, and Monica Evangelista-Laos, 30, late last week after they attempted to enter Canada at Port Huron’s Blue Water Bridge. During a vehicle inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, officers found dozens of unopened consumer electronics including: 39 iPods, two iPod nanos, external hard drives and other devices. The items came from an area Best Buy. Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office and HSI special agents contacted the retailer which confirmed losses consistent with the merchandise found. The estimated value of all the items is approximately $10,000.
The pair could not produce any proof of purchase for the items. Officers also found a metal pick tool in the vehicle. Upon review of store surveillance footage, Evangelista-Laos can be seen talking to a sales representative while Fernandez-Igua picked an inventory case lock and subsequently loaded items into a black bag. The pair later left the store with a concealed device capable of short circuiting fraud-prevention scanners located at the building’s exit.
Special agents later intercepted a package containing suspected stolen consumer electronics shipped by Fernandez-Igua from Michigan to a New Jersey address.
HSI special agents suspect the couple was involved in several similar theft incidents involving stores throughout Michigan and Ohio during the week of Sept. 15. HSI requests any retailer that recognizes Fernandez-Igua, pictured, contact the agency immediately by calling the 24-hour HSI Tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.