NORTH JERSEY -- A group of cardboard thieves netted more than $100,000 in the past three months stealing bales of cardboard from Walmart and Sam's Club stores across New Jersey and selling the crushed boxes to recyclers, authorities said Tuesday.
Neil Devito, 34, of Old Bridge, and John Nichols, 38, of Staten Island, were arrested Tuesday and charged with theft, conspiracy and fencing, the Attorney General's Office announced in a release. Charges were pending against a third man, Vincenzo Grasso, 46, of Staten Island.
Police said spotters would go to Walmart and Sam's Club stores on the hunt for cardboard awaiting picking by contracted recycling companies, but would instead swoop in and snatch the waste.
Authorities said the ring lifted 900 tons of carboard from the stores, which they sold for $125 per ton.
"This group invested a considerable amount of time to create an enterprise with the sole purpose to steal cardboard," said Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey state police. "There are serious money and organizational skills involved here that could have been used for lawful purposes."
Troopers seized two tractor-trailers, and three flatbeds at the South Amboy lot where Nichols was arrested, authorities said. The trucks are registered to a firm owned by Devito, according to the release.
Authorities are also trying to seize three 2012 Cadillac Escalades that they say were used in the operation.
"Today’s arrests serve as a high watermark in tackling the growing challenge of recycling theft in this region," said New York Business Integrity Commission Chair Shari Hyman.