By Doug Ireland
---- — SALEM — A Lawrence man faces felony charges for operating a retail crime ring, stealing items from Sears on at least five occasions, according to police.
Edwin Echevarria, 25, was arrested Tuesday night when police responded to the store at The Mall at Rockingham Park after receiving a report of an employee stealing merchandise, Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten said.
Echevarria was charged with two counts of operating an organized retail crime enterprise and single counts of conspiracy to commit theft and theft by unauthorized taking, Patten said.
Thousands of dollars in items and cash have been taken since July 20, he said. Several people were involved in the thefts and more arrests are possible, Patten said.
False refunds and rewards points were used to obtain the merchandise, he said. Items were also falsely rung up on the cash register, Patten said.
In one instance, a woman bought an air conditioner valued at $359 and received a refund without returning it. On another day, the woman bought luggage for $979 and was charged $5.49 for a screwdriver, Patten said.
On another occasion, assorted merchandise valued at $1,148 was purchased and a fraudulent return of the entire purchase rung up. It was later discovered that only an $18 pair of pants was returned.
Echevarria was held at the county jail on $25,000 cash bail pending his arraignment, Patten said.