ROCHESTER — After arresting two men Monday for allegedly illegally getting $9,000 in gift cards, police believe more thefts may happen, and they have alerted counterparts on the Seacoast to be wary.
Deval Rhodes, 22, of 2168 Renfrew Ave. in Elmont, N.Y., was charged with forgery and possession of a marijuana.
Djeffry Louis, 20, of 245 Rosedall St. Apt. #11422 in New York, N.Y., was charged with possession of cocaine, transporting marijuana and driving after revocation or suspension.
Police continue to investigate and expect to charge the pair over the gift cards.
Both men were arrested after police received a report of suspicious activity at Hannaford Brothers supermarket on North Main Street Tuesday around 6:50 p.m.
The caller told police that two men – one wearing a suit and the other wearing a Yankees hat and Nike sweat shirt – purchased $400 in gift cards before attempting to obtain another $800 in gift cards, but their credit card was declined, according to police.
Upon arriving at the supermarket, police could not locate the men so they began checking with other businesses around the city. Officers found two men who fit the description as they were leaving Pet Paradise at the Lilac Mall along Milton Road – Route 125, according to police.
Investigators discovered that Louis and Rhodes allegedly had more than 100 activated gift cards - worth in excess of $9,000 – taken from area stores during the past two days. The cards range from Visa, Master Card, American Express and store credit cards from the Home Depot and others, according to police.
“It is believed that these cards were being purchased fraudulently utilizing other gift cards and fraudulently obtained credit cards,” according to police.
Investigators believe Rhodes also allegedly signed a false name while using a credit card at CVS pharmacy.
Following their arrest, both men were held in Strafford County Jail in Dover on $50,000 cash bail, which was upheld during their video arraignments in 7th Circuit Court in Rochester Tuesday morning. Both men must sign a waiver of extradition, refrain from the excessive use of alcohol and not use any type of illegal drugs if they make bail. If released, both Rhodes and Louis would not be allowed to return to Rochester, according to court records.
Two probable cause hearings have been scheduled for Jan. 22 at 1 p.m. in Rochester, according to court records.
Police continue to investigate and believe the case is connected to a credit card ring and have notified their counterparts around the area, according to Police Capt. Paul Toussaint.
Toussaint said they “specifically identified” businesses in Dover and Exeter where the men allegedly obtained gift cards or other items as part of the operation.
“We’re not sure what we completely have – especially from last night,” Toussaint said, adding purchasing items with gift cards makes this “much harder to trace.”
“It appears it originated out of the New York-New Jersey area – that’s where they’re all from that area,” Toussaint said, adding police have reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for help.
“We don’t believe these guys were working by themselves,” Toussaint said.
On Thursday, police arrested of two men from New York State who allegedly had a van full of stolen goods, phony credit cards and fake driver’s licenses.
Vic Washington, 44, of 203 Street in Queens, N.Y., was charged with six felonies - conspiracy to commit theft by deception, conspiracy to commit theft and four counts of receiving stolen property – and misdemeanor counts of the manufacture, sale and possession of a false identification and the possession of controlled/narcotic drug.
Aaron Young, 30, of 11137 203rd St. in Saint Albans, N.Y., was charged with felony forgery and eight misdemeanors – theft by deception, six counts of receiving stolen property and the manufacture, sale and possession of a false identification.
Washington and Young allegedly tried to use a phony credit card at Kohl’s Department Store before obtaining more than $1,000 in items from the nearby Lowe’s Store.
Anyone having further information about this matter or similar acts is encouraged to contact the Rochester Police Department at (603) 330-7128.