June 2nd, 2010
MABLETON, Ga. – Truck cargo theft is rampant in Georgia, and consumers are paying for a portion of the losses. On Wednesday, a Mableton man admitted taking part in a $3 million scheme to sell items taken off truck, everything from chewing gum to sewing machines.
Forty-eight-year-old John Raymond Smith, Jr., went before a judge Wednesday and admitted to conspiring to buy, receive and possess goods stolen from multiple interstate tractor trailer and container shipments throughout Georgia and the southeastern United States between May 2005 and July 2009.
Smith operated Smith Sales Company out of warehouses in Mableton and Hiram, Georgia. Smith was accused of conspiring with robin l. Cheatwood, who operated A-Z Discount in Cedartown and other co-conspirators to buy, receive, and possess goods stolen from nearly two dozen interstate tractor trailer and container shipments valued at over $3 million throughout the southeastern United States, including shipments stolen in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
The tractor trailers and containers were stolen while parked at truck stops, motels, and container storage facilities, often at night.
Investigators said Smith, Cheatwood and others then sold the goods at discounted prices to consumers and wholesalers.
The stolen goods included a $123,000 shipment of brand name TVs and computers, a $164,000 shipment of Casio, Inc. electronics, $100,000 in GT One cigarettes, a $1.8 million shipment of computerized Husqvarna and Pfaff sewing machines, an $86,000 shipment of Starkist canned tuna, $40,000 in Carters, Inc. baby clothes, and $64,000 in Wrigley’s chewing gum.
Many of the stolen shipments were bound for major retailers such as Best Buy, Lowes, Sam’s Club, Target, Wal-Mart, OfficeMax, and Office Depot.