Prosecutors announce bust of $2M retail theft ring in San Francisco

 San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced on Monday a 2 1/2-year investigation into retail theft resulted in the recovery of more than $2 million in stolen merchandise and arrest warrants for several people.   

The investigation, called Operation Focus Lens, followed a series of thefts at the Macy's department store in Union Square in 2019 and led investigators to uncover a major retail theft ring, according to prosecutors.   

One of the suspects, identified as Rodolfo Castillo, is accused of stealing more than $7,500 worth of merchandise total on three separate occasions. 

When officers arrested Castillo, he allegedly admitted to reselling the stolen items to a company called Camera Heaven, prosecutors said.   

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Investigators then began monitoring the owners of Camera Heaven, David Tran and Yanxia Xie, and believe the pair was reselling the stolen merchandise at their former storefront, located at 746 Larkin St., and in flea markets. 

Additionally, Xie and Tran allegedly shipped some of the stolen items to suspect Nate Pham in Vietnam, according to prosecutors.   The same investigation also led to the discovery of a separate organized retail theft operation happening at the store Fashion Exchange, located at 1446 Polk St. 

The District Attorney's Office has already secured indictments for Fashion Exchange owners Deanna Klinkovich and Floriya Pavlichenko and the case is currently pending, prosecutors said.   

"My office is committed to combating organized retail theft by targeting the source: the fencers who are profiting from the reselling of stolen goods," Boudin said in a statement. "I am also thankful to the many law enforcement agencies who partnered with us and helped us successfully recover stolen goods and identify individuals responsible for driving organized retail thefts in San Francisco."   

Operation Focus Lens is a collaboration between Boudin's office and several other local agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, the San Francisco Police Department, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, among other agencies.   

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Operation Focus Lens is part of the larger Operation Wrecking Ball, which looks into retail theft and its connection to street vendors in the city's downtown. 

Earlier this month, investigators arrested Rodolfo Ivan Urbina Osejo in connection with Operation Wrecking Ball on suspicion of possession stolen property.