Three men were arrested yesterday for allegedly stealing tens of
thousands of dollars worth of cardboard from big box stores in New
Jersey through what investigators called a "large scale recycling theft
Neil Devito and John Nichols were taken into custody in Old Bridge and
South Amboy, New Jersey, respectively, while Vincenzo Grasso was
arrested on a parole violation in Staten Island, New York.
"This group invested a considerable amount of money to create a company
which sole purpose was to steal from major retailers throughout New
Jersey,” Superintendent of New Jersey State Police Col. Rick Fuentes
said in a release. "Although this type of theft is not readily visible
to the public, it ultimately hurts the customer in the form of higher
Grasso allegedly orchestrated the theft ring, focusing on Walmart and
Sam's Club stores in New Jersey. Investigators said Grasso and Devito
built a "shadow operation" posing as legal waste haulers.
Under the name "Metro Paper, Inc," they allegedly scouted stores and
then sent trucks to steal cardboard from their loading docks.
Authorities said they sold the ripped-off refuse, which goes for about
$100 per ton, at transfer stations in New York and New Jersey.
The ring at its peak allegedly ran routes six days a week using
Straightline Trucking vehicles. Between April and July 2012,
investigators with the New York City Business Integrity Commission said
they observed the ring illegally haul 900 tons of cardboard, generating a
profit of about $103,000.
They believe that, based on similar thefts at other stores in the
region, the operation is responsible for even more stolen recyclables.
"The daily theft of cardboard hurts our entire industry, from small
family-owned hauling operators to larger firms who lose the revenue, and
their customers that feel the loss in greater fees,” said Ron
Bergamini, CEO of New York City's largest commercial hauler, Action
Environmental Services, in a statement. "Today’s announcement and the
cooperation needed to get here is welcome across our industry, as this
is not a victimless crime."