The owner of two pawn shops in Bucks County and one of his employees admitted Wednesday to enlisting people struggling with drug addiction for a retail theft ring the two ran that netted $700,000, authorities said.
Michael Stein, 36, of Langhorne, the owner of Levittown Quick Cash Trading Post and Morrisville Loan & Pawn, pleaded guilty to corrupt organizations and receiving stolen property, the state Attorney General’s Office said in a news release. Stein’s now-former employee, Brian Jancia, 29, of Holmes, admitted to receiving stolen property.
Jancia was sentenced to three years of probation and 80 hours of community service, authorities said. Stein’s sentence was deferred because he cooperated with investigators.
From January 2014 to October 2017, Stein and Jancia sent 27 “professional thieves" to steal more than 5,000 items from Walmart, Target, CVS, Giant Food, and Home Depot stores in Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, authorities said. The thieves shoplifted a variety of items, including household appliances, computer hard drives, and beauty products, according to the Attorney General’s Office. The unopened merchandise was then resold on eBay and other online platforms.
Over the three years the ring operated, the items were sold for nearly $700,000. Of that, Stein’s shoplifters collected around $229,000, about 30 cents on the dollar, investigators said. Stein kept the rest, more than $470,000.
Stein and Jancia were arrested in March 2018 following a yearlong investigation.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro, calling the ring a “despicable enterprise," said Stein and Jancia “ran a scheme to profit off of those struggling with substance-use disorder and take advantage of the opioid crisis ravaging Pennsylvania.”