Attorney General Phil Weiser charges couple in Home Depot retail theft ring
March 2, 2023 (DENVER)—Attorney General Phil Weiser today announced that the statewide grand jury indicted a couple for allegedly carrying out an organized retail theft scheme involving The Home Depot stores in Adams, Jefferson, Boulder, Broomfield, and Weld counties, and pawning or selling the stolen items for their own personal benefit.
“Colorado businesses have lost millions in inventory to sophisticated crime rings, threatening greater safety risks to retail store employees and higher prices for consumers. Working with our law enforcement partners, my office is committed to combating organized retail theft and holding criminals accountable for the harm they cause businesses, employees, and consumers throughout the state,” said Weiser, who earlier this year established a statewide task force to combat organized retail theft.
According to the grand jury indictment, between December 2021 and September 2022, Mario Timothy Hehr and Alexandra Gaiswinkler collaborated with each other to steal more than $39,000 in high-end tools and merchandise from The Home Depot retail stores and used their connections through pawn shops and other affiliations to execute an organized retail crime scheme.
The alleged criminal scheme followed a distinctive pattern of activity. Hehr would enter stores, use cutters to cut security cables from high-end tools, conceal the tools in a tote or garbage bin, and then exit the store with the tote or bin without paying for the merchandise. Hehr would depart from the stores in a distinctive blue and white van. This activity was captured on surveillance cameras. On at least one occasion, Gaiswinkler was the getaway driver.
Hehr or Gaiswinkler would then often go directly to pawnshops to sell or pawn items matching the descriptions of the stolen tools, according to court documents. Throughout the course of the investigation, the grand jury developed evidence to show that the funds from this theft ring were used as income by the members of the criminal enterprise. The associations between members of the enterprise are demonstrated through a variety of records, including but not limited to pawn shop records and surveillance videos. Store employees from The Home Depot and investigators identified Hehr both from security cameras and from in-person encounters.
“Organized retail crime is a growing problem for retailers, and The Home Depot is fighting it on all fronts. We’re proud to partner with the Attorney General’s Office and local law enforcement to work together to stop dangerous criminals from stealing from our stores and posing a danger to our communities,” said Scott Glenn, Vice President of Asset Protection, The Home Depot.
Chief Robert Stef of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office said: “This was excellent work by our investigator who was instrumental in developing and identifying leads which led to probable cause for an arrest against these two defendants. The investigator worked diligently and collaboratively with other law enforcement agencies to put an end to this crime ring.”
Hehr is charged with two counts of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act—racketeering and conspiracy (F2), and one count each of theft (F4), conspiracy to commit theft (F5), and attempt to commit theft (M2). Gaiswinkler is charged with one count each of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act—conspiracy (F2), theft (F4), and conspiracy to commit theft (F5).
The defendants are in the custody of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office on $50,000 cash or surety bonds. The cases are filed in Jefferson County District Court under case numbers 2023CR497 (Hehr) and 2023CR498 (Gaiswinkler).
An attorney from the Department of Law’s Criminal Justice Section will serve as a special deputy district attorney in the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office for purposes of prosecuting the cases.
“We are grateful to our law enforcement partners for the hard work and persistence that resulted in the indictments announced today. Retail theft has a deep impact on both consumers and businesses and the well-being of our communities. We look forward to a continued partnership with the Attorney General’s Office to ensure those responsible are held accountable,” said First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King.
A grand jury indictment is a formal accusation that an individual committed a crime under Colorado laws. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.