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Task Force Shuts Down Theft Ring That Stole From Big Retailers

A Charlotte man has pleaded guilty to running a retail theft ring that stole more than $4 million in merchandise between 2015 and 2018. Edwin Barkley, 63, pleaded guilty in federal court last month to running the ring out of two stores and four storage units off North Tryon Street.

Barkley was accused of buying heavy duty tools and other goods from accomplices, or boosters, who stole them from Home Depot, Lowe's and Target.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenny Sugar spoke at CMPD Wednesday.
Credit David Boraks / WFAE
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenny Sugar spoke at CMPD Wednesday.

U.S. Attorney Jenny Sugar said they stole big-ticket items, "things like power tools, vacuum cleaners and generators, knowing they could fence these good for more money, money they used to buy drugs, including heroin and opioids."

Sugar said Barkley would pay very low prices for the goods, then sell them through an online eBay store called Tool King USA.

A task force of the Secret Service and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police carried out search warrants last October. They found that Barkley had sold 19,000 items worth more than $3 million through his eBay store. And they seized another 6400 new-in-box items worth more than $1 million.  

Barkley faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to interstate transportation of stolen property.

David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.