41 arrested after NYPD takedown of retail crime ring

The NYPD was joined by Mayor Eric Adams and New York Attorney General Letitia James to announce the takedown of a gigantic retail burglary operation on May 26 thanks to the Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the NYPD’s Grand Larceny Division.

According to Attorney General James, the ring saw millions of dollars in goods stolen from luxury outlets to drug stores, including lavish clothing that was resold on the auction website eBay.  Many of these items were displayed across a table for press to observe at the attorney general’s office on 28 Liberty Street.

The three-year joint investigation helmed by law enforcement saw 41 people arrested and charged, including the ring’s alleged kingpin Roni Rubinov, who would buy the products from smash-and-grab thieves. The criminals committing these lootings were reportedly individuals from low-income backgrounds who saw Rubinov as a gateway to a better life, yet the crime boss would pay pennies on the dollar for the products he would then fence.

Law enforcement recovered over $3.8 million worth of stolen retail. Photo by Dean Moses

“The mastermind of this is a man named Roni Rubinov, who created a network to systematically steal goods from numerous retailers in New York City. They purchased and then resold them for profit on an eBay storefront. At the top of his chain were 11 people that manage Rubinov’s day-to-day operations at his direction,” James said.  “Generally purchased for six to eight percent of their retail value, and stolen cosmetics and pharmaceutical items at a rate of one to $2 per item depending upon the brand these items were stolen from stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom Rack, Duane Reade, CVS and Sephora seven days a week.”

The mayor zeroed in on the impacts these repeated burglaries had on the stores themselves, stating that several retailers were forced to close their doors due to the constant spate of unrelenting robberies. Adams said that store owners couldn’t cope with this never-ending onslaught.

Attorney General James showcased the luxury clothing stolen. Photo by Dean Moses

“This wasn’t just shoplifting, but people going into stores and cleaning off shelves as part of an organized crime ring. This massive retail-theft scheme affected every level of our economy, from department stores to big chains to independent businesses–all of whom were already impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Adams said.

While Rubinov was allegedly already in operation prior to the dawn of the deadly virus, his business excelled in the years following at the expense of others.  Law enforcement seized more than $3.8 million worth of stolen retail items from Rubinov, including over 550 stolen gift and cash cards, and more than $300,000 in cash.

“The NYPD is a police department dedicated to rooting out these criminals, and this case exemplifies that work,” NYPD Commanding Officer of Central Robbery Division Deputy Inspector Nicholas Fiore said.

Clothing stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom Rack and more were robbed of their inventory. Photo by Dean Moses

Rubinov and his accomplices are being charged with enterprise corruption, money laundering, criminal possession of stolen property, scheme to defraud and conspiracy.

“Today’s takedown of this massive retail theft operation is part of our continued efforts to combat crime and restore an environment where all New Yorkers feel secure,” said Attorney General James. “These individuals stole millions of dollars in luxury goods and cleared the shelves of drug stores in the communities we live and resold these goods for great profit. We will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to crackdown on crime and protect all our communities.”

Photo by Dean Moses