The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office has recovered more than 4,000 stolen items from Denny’s Jewelry and Pawn in Arden and charged 14 people with organized retail theft, a felony, according to an Oct. 18 news releases.
Two of the people charged, Robert Dennis Lewis Sr. and Robert Dennis Lewis Jr., owned the pawn shop, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Employees Tammy Gates and Kenneth Gates were also charged.
“At this point, with it being an active investigation, we’re going to decline to get into more details so as not to jeopardize any further stuff,” BCSO spokesperson Aaron Sarver said when asked what role the four played in the alleged theft ring .
Items recovered mostly came from Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target and Sportsman’s Warehouse locations in Buncombe County, the release says.
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The sheriff’s office has not finalized an estimated cost of the recovered items yet, but it will “significantly exceed” an original estimate of $125,000 to $150,000, the release says.
“This remains an active investigation with multiple detectives at the Sheriff’s Office focused solely on this organized theft ring. This will likely take weeks to complete as we continue to gather additional information,” Criminal Investigations Division Capt. Angie Tullis said in a statement with the release.
A manager at the shop, Tammy Gates, told the Citizen Times that Denny’s Jewelry and Pawn posted information to LeadsOnline. She was reached by a reporter before the sheriff’s office announced the names of those charged.
“We thought that was what was helping us, but actually it was hindering us,” she said of LeadsOnline. “They had five or six, maybe even seven people that was in a ring, and they lied and said we were asking them to steal … and we have not. We’ve got a paper trail, we have LeadsOnline, we have everything to prove that we have not done anything.”
At the time, she did not know that any employees had been charged.
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that two of the people charged were owners of the pawn shop and two worked there. A spokesperson with the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office initially said none of the suspects worked at Denny’s Jewelry and Pawn, but later said that was an internal miscommunication.
Ryan Oehrli is the breaking news and social justice reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times. Send tips to [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Police: Over $150K theft operation includes Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target