MAHWAH, N.J. -- A Mahwah police officer arrested a career criminal suspected of participating in a large-scale Home Depot theft ring responsible for swiping $190,000 in merchandise, authorities said Wednesday.
Officer Tyler Boucher pulled over a 2003 BMW 321i with Florida license plates on southbound Route 17 around noon Tuesday, Police Chief James Batelli said.
After Keith E. Long, 46, of the Bronx gave Boucher "conflicting stories in response to questions," the officer discovered the vehicle had bogus registration, the chief said.
Boucher arrested Long, a federal parolee with a lengthy history of prior arrests -- including one involving a murder, Batelli said.
Police impounded the vehicle and Detective Eric Larsen obtained a search warrant, he said.
In the car, detectives found "a large number of merchandise return cards from various Home Depot stores, as well as numerous items [that] were later determined to have been stolen/shoplifted from Home Depot stores outside of New Jersey," Batelli said.
They also learned that Long was prohibited from being in New Jersey under the terms of his parole, he said.
Home Depot representatives retrieved the stolen property.
Long, meanwhile, was ordered held on $75,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail, charged with possession of stolen property.
Records show he's been arrested no fewer than 19 times for charges ranging from murder to aggravated assault to weapons offenses and more.
Mahwah detectives were working with other law enforcement agencies and Home Depot security as the investigation deepens, the chief said.
They were also trying to determine who owns the BMW, he said.
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