Grand jury indicts 25 for stealing thousands from home improvement stores

DENVER -- A grand jury has indicted 25 members of a ring that is alleged to have stolen thousands of dollars in merchandise from Denver-area home improvement stores, the Denver District Attorney's Office said Monday.

A 27-count indictment is the result of a months-long investigation by the district attorney's office, the Denver Metro Gang Task Force, and the Denver, Aurora and Lakewood police departments.

The Denver Sheriff's Department assisted with the arrests of several of the suspects last week.

The indictment alleges that 31-year-old ringleader Christopher Rodriguez and 24 co-defendants specialized in stealing more than $35,000 from Home Depot and Lowe's stores along the Front Range.

The group is alleged to have returned stolen goods, then sold gift cards and used the cash to pay members or to purchase drugs from December 2015 to December 2016.

“Rodriguez allegedly provided room and board in Denver for some members of the enterprise and bonded associates out of jail and compelled them to work for him until they could repay the bond fee,” according to the district attorney's office.

The cards were sold for about 70 percent of their value at stores specializing in gift cards.

Rodriguez and co-defendant Ginia Bobian were out on bond and wearing electronic monitoring devices during many of the alleged incidents, the district attorney's office said.

The monitoring devices placed them at the scene of the thefts.

Eighteen of the 25 defendants have been arrested or are in custody, with seven still at-large, the district attorney's office said.

Besides Rodriguez and Bobian, the names, ages and gender of the other 23 suspects were not released.

Rodriguez is charged with one count of violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act. He and the 24 others are charged variously with money laundering, theft and violation of bail bond conditions.

The first appearances in Denver District Court have not been scheduled.