Imitation Store Nabs Thieves Red-Handed

This holiday season the Boston Police Department (BPD) embarked on an innovative way to identify ‘Grinches’ citywide who sought to steal Christmas and profit from stolen merchandise. An elaborate undercover operation, dubbed Men In Blue (M.I.B.), included the creation of an imitation store in the Downtown Crossing area. The pretend shop, staffed by undercover officers, established a business setting that created the illusion of a jewelry and electronics repair business willing to purchase stolen goods.

The goal of this effort is to reduce property-related crime throughout the city by making it more difficult to unload stolen property in the open market, to assist police in recovering stolen property on behalf of victims and to arrest habitual offenders.

“I want to applaud the hard work of the Boston Police Department in finding such an innovative solution to this ongoing problem in such a dynamic and growing neighborhood district that is beginning to thrive with theaters, new restaurants and area universities,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “Thanks to the dedication of these officers, we have recovered over 230 items and obtained 24 warrants to take these criminals off the streets. To all the criminals out there, know this: we are a step ahead of you.”

\”When a person\’s home is robbed, the feeling of personal violation is profound,\” Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said. \”We all want and deserve to feel safe – especially in our homes. The Boston Police deserve tremendous praise for the creative and ambitious strategy that they devised to bring offenders who profit from ill-gotten goods to justice, and to protect Boston residents from further victimization.\”

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis stated, “A criminal seeking to profit from stolen merchandise should be mindful of the possibility that officers are already several steps ahead. I hope this effort serves as a deterrent to those intending to benefit from this type of activity. I appreciate the effort of the officers who launched this initiative and commend the cooperation of the Downtown Crossing community.”

The Boston Police Department aims to be strategic and innovative in addressing concerns relative to residential and commercial break-ins. As part of the BPD’s efforts to tackle this issue, investigators determined that the solution lies with identifying both the origin of the stolen property and the culprit who stole it. As a result, detectives created operation Men In Blue to achieve the fundamental goal of reducing property crime across the city. Property Crime is currently down citywide by 2%.  

Downtown Crossing is an area comprised of a collection of jewelry stores, electronic repair shops and coin dealerships. Boston Police investigators have identified some of these stores as also dabbling in the purchase of stolen property. Although many transactions are legitimate, there are numerous circumstances where criminals are seeking to profit from stolen merchandise which correlates directly to property crime in the city.

Approximately five weeks ago, two undercover officers posed as the owners of M.I.B. Jewelers at 365 Washington Street in Downtown Crossing. M.I.B. Jewelers appeared to be a jewelry and electronics repair shop which was also willing to purchase stolen property. Movable and stationary cameras monitored activity from a remote location to protect the officers, identify suspects and collect evidence.  Video from these transactions is available at

Immediately prior to the ‘Grand Opening’ of M.I.B. Jewelers, undercover officers targeted surrounding store locations known to engage in this type of activity in an effort to neutralize competition and limit traffic redirecting ‘customers’ to the phony location. This preliminary effort resulted in eight (8) criminal complaints being filed at Boston Municipal Court by Boston Police against various stores.

The five week operation of M.I.B. Jewelers has currently resulted in twenty-four (24) warrants issued from Boston Municipal Court. Boston Police have made 7 arrests.  In addition, BPD anticipates thirty (30) – forty (40) warrants to follow in the coming weeks as the investigation continues.

The Boston Police Department netted over 230 individual items including electronics, musical instruments, jewelry, watches, cell phones, cashmere sweaters and flat screen TVs. Detectives continue to investigate the origin of these items and encourage any possible victims to please come forward.

Many of the items that have been recovered are under investigation for being connected to robbery incidents outside of Boston and other jurisdictions such as Milton, Dedham, Cambridge, Randolph, Chatham, Amherst, Somerville, Hull, Brockton, Worchester and the Transit Police. Boston Police detectives are working closely with law enforcement partners to continue the investigation.

Sample Incident:

On December 9, 2010 at about 6:47pm, officers responded to radio call for a breaking and entering report at a residence on Turtle Pond Parkway in Hyde Park, MA. Upon arrival officers spoke to the victim who stated when he arrived home from work he noticed several items were missing from his home and an office had been ransacked. Victim stated he had secured the house and left for work at 8:00am upon his return from work around 6:30pm he discovered the break-in. Officers observed a bedroom ransacked and dresser draws thrown about the room. Victim stated that numerous items were missing including a Sadowsky Base Guitar, 1968 Fender Precision Base Guitar, a Fender Marcus Miller Base Guitar, 1997 Fender Jazz Bass (Blue), 4 IPOD Classic Players and 2 Lap Top Computers, (1) PRO Book and (2) MacBook had been taken from the basement area.

On December 16, 2010 at 6:10pm, undercover officers recovered the three bass guitars when robbery suspects attempted to sell instruments at M.I.B. Jewelers.  The victim positively identified the property that was stolen from his house. Officers sought and obtained a ‘John Doe’ arrest warrant at Boston Municipal Court.

On December 20, 2010 at about 5:45pm, the suspect returned to the store and was placed under arrest for Receiving Stolen Property.