A group of three men suspected of being part of a shoplifting ring that has been operating throughout the state have been arrested following what police say is an attempted theft of electronics at Brick’s Target store.
A number of Brick police officers, including detectives from the department’s Street Crimes Unit, went to the store April 6 after a report of a shoplifting was called in. According to Sgt. Jim Kelly, the heavy response was due to the recent string of purse thefts and fraudulent card activity at retail stores across the state.
“Detective Brian Farnkopf had been investigating several cases of theft and fraudulent card activity at the Walmart and Target stores in town, among others,” said Kelly, in a statement.
The previous incidents involved a group of three to five men, described to be of Hispanic descent, using a specific M.O. to successfully take items. In this case, a group of three men who matched the description were seen “concealing merchandise in a backpack while the other two used several gift cards to purchase electronics,” the statement said.
Street Crimes Unit Detectives in the area responded to the store at about 5 p.m. and made contact with the suspects, with Farnkopf arriving shortly after. Police determined the gift cards used to purchase the electronics had been purchased at another Target store in Princeton earlier in the day with a stolen credit card.
The three suspects, Luis Ramirez-Gonzalez, 29, of Queens, N.Y., Esteban Ibrarra-Ignacio, 22, of Queens, N.Y., and Hector Marquez-Troncoso, 41, of Queens, N.Y., were all placed under arrest, and their cell phones and vehicle were seized.
According to police, Ramirez-Gonzelez was found to be in possession of $233.37 worth of stolen goods. He was charged with shoplifting, credit card fraud, and theft by deception. Ibrarra-Ignacio, the suspect who was discovered to have been driving the group’s vehicle, was found to be in possession of $991.59 worth of fraudulently obtained merchandise consisting of an Apple Watch S7 and an iPad Mini, Kelly said. He was charged with shoplifting, credit card fraud, theft by deception, possession of a fake ID, unlicensed driving, unregistered vehicle and fictitious plates. Marquez-Troncoso was charged with shoplifting, credit card fraud and theft by deception.
Farnkopf was able to link several thefts and fraudulent purchases committed by all three subjects in other stores around the state to the April 6 shoplifting incident. All three suspects were charged on warrants and lodged in Ocean County Jail. None remained listed as inmates in the jail as of April 13. No photos of the suspects were available.