A Connecticut man arrested in Chesterfield last year with more than $5,000 in stolen goods pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Concord.
James R. Falk, 38, of Preston, Conn., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport stolen goods. He has yet to be sentenced.
Prosecutors say Falk and an accomplice, Conery A. Morse of Massachusetts, stole high-value goods from retail stores across New England and shipped them to New Jersey to be sold online.
“Falk and Morse entered large retail stores, including Target, Kohl’s, Lowes, Walmart, Best Buy, and Home Depot stores, chose high-value items, such as thermostats, alarm systems, electronics, hardware, and tools, and left the stores without paying for all of the items,” Falk’s plea agreement states. “To steal goods inside the stores, Falk and Morse secreted stolen goods in larger boxes and containers, in an attempt to conceal them from detection.”
The pair used containers that interfered with radio signals to thwart the stores’ security sensors, according to the plea agreement.
Prosecutors say Falk and Morse stole more than $54,000 worth of merchandise between April and December 2018, including products worth more than $5,000 from Home Depot and Kohl’s in Keene.
Falk is scheduled to be sentenced in September. Morse is awaiting trial.
N.H. State Police stopped a Nissan SUV with Missouri plates on Route 9 in Chesterfield last September, and subsequently arrested Falk for suspected driving under the influence of heroin/fentanyl, according to an affidavit written by State Police Trooper First Class Michael R. Anger.
While conducting an inventory of the vehicle’s contents, Trooper Zachary Bernier found a box for a Keurig coffee pot. The “box had been modified with Styrofoam and aluminum foil layers encasing the interior sides, bottom and top,” according to Anger, and rather than a coffee pot contained “three brand new Nest Home Thermostats with the retailer’s security device still around each of the boxes.”
In the passenger seat, police found a folder with receipts from different stores and what appeared to be heroin or fentanyl, Anger wrote.
A subsequent search of the vehicle yielded about 40 pieces of merchandise worth $5,772, including electric toothbrushes, power adapters, faucets, a doorbell, tools, thermostats, alarm systems and a hockey gear bag, according to the affidavit.
Anger wrote that the Keurig box and bag insulated with tinfoil appeared to be for the purpose of blocking retail stores’ theft-detection systems.
According to the affidavit, Falk’s phone included online searches for such phrases as “how to catch shoplifting box stuffers” and “how does lowes deal with professional shoplifters,” as well as texts with Morse that appear to describe shoplifting.
Police also obtained video footage showing Falk and Morse at the Home Depot and Kohl’s in Keene the evening of Sept. 13, Anger wrote.