Southeast man arrested in Lego theft and fencing operation
On Thursday, April 26, at approximately 9:05 a.m., members of the Portland Police Detective Division's "Detective Coordination Team (DCT)" arrested 40-year-old Raji Afife Azar, a Southeast Portland Resident, of multiple crimes.
Azar was lodged in the Multnomah County Jail on charges of Aggravated Theft in the First Degree, Theft in the First Degree (ten counts), Laundering a Monetary Instrument, and Computer Crime Felony (15 counts).
This investigation began in early 2018 when Fred Meyer's Organized Retail Theft Unit Investigators learned that Azar was the leader of a fencing operation that involved the theft and sale of merchandise from multiple stores in the Portland metropolitan area.
During the investigation, the Fred Meyer Organized Retail Theft Unit worked with the Northwest Organized Retail Crime Alliance, and learned Azar had solicited a number of people to steal from various business throughout the Portland metropolitan area.
During the investigation, undercover officers were contacted by Azar on multiple occasions. They haqd posed as thieves who would sell stolen merchandise to Azar at a fraction of the manufacturer's retail suggested price.
On Thursday, April 26, Azar requested that the undercover investigators, who he believed were shoplifters, sell him approximately $13,000 in stolen merchandise.
The undercover officers met Azar in the 10300 block of S.E. Washington Street with the supposed stolen merchandise. After Azar purchased the stolen merchandise from undercover officers, he was taken into custody without incident.
Once Azar was taken into custody, a search warrant was served at his family's residence in the 2000 block of S.E, 102nd Avenue. During a search of the house, investigators found a large quantity of stolen Legos and other stolen merchandise.Investigators from Fred Meyer's Organized Retail Theft Unit estimate the recovered Legos, and other toys stolen from area Fred Meyer Stores, to be worth approximately $50,000 -- and the estimate does not include merchandise recovered from the residence that came from other retail stores.
Based on information learned during the investigation, detectives believe Azar would solicit the theft of items from stores through websites such as Craigslist and OfferUp.
Azar would meet with individuals who had stole items, and would purchase the stolen merchandise for pennies on the dollar of what the item was worth.He would then advertise and sell the stolen merchandise on Craigslist, EBay, and OfferUp.
As part ofthe operation, people who suffered from addiction to opioids and other drugs would enter stores and steal Legos and items to sell to Azar. Azar would then sell the stolen merchandise at a large profit for himself, say the police
Investigators remind anyone purchasing items from a non-retail location should be aware of items sold as "new", or in unopened packages, with prices that seem too good to be true -- because the items may be stolen.