Home Depot employee theft ring exposed in Trumbull

The Home Depot in Trumbull is recovering from an employee theft ring that lasted from January 2015 to October 2015.
The Home Depot in Trumbull is recovering from an employee theft ring that lasted from January 2015 to October 2015.

Trumbull police arrested two men in connection with an employee theft ring that operated from January 2015 to October 2015 at the Home Depot on Monroe Turnpike.

Santiago Gonzalez, 22, of Bridgeport and Jerel Santamaria, 21, of Monroe were both arrested  at the Trumbull Police Department Sunday, April 10, on outstanding warrants for conspiracy to commit larceny in the second degree.

According to a report, there are five more employees, including a shift manager, who have yet to be arrested in connection with the almost yearlong shoplifting spree that took place overnight at the store.

Police told The Times Monday that the seven employees worked together as a cleaning crew at the store and stole valuable tools in the middle of the night when on break during their shift.

Gonzalez, who was detained in Bridgeport before being transferred to Trumbull, was additionally charged with larceny in the third degree.

He started taking drills in January 2015, the report said, and he stole as much as $5,290 worth of goods on one specific night in August 2015 based on store surveillance. Police said video footage showed that an additional $7,995 worth of tools was stolen on another night in the fall of 2015.

An audit revealed the scheme, and Home Depot’s asset protection department reported it to the Trumbull Police Department last fall.

The report said Home Depot reviewed the surveillance footage of the crew after the audit report came in and the shift manager admitted to intentionally overlooking the tapes to support the scheme.

According to the report, the shift manager estimated that more than $300,000 worth of tools had been stolen in total.

Some of the goods were recovered at several local pawn shops, police said, while other tools were sold on a Facebook group last year and have not been found.

When interviewed by Home Depot’s asset protection specialist, Santamaria also admitted his part in the scheme. Like Gonzalez, he was caught on tape and was picked up in Monroe, where he was served an outstanding warrant for his arrest. He was additionally charged with larceny in the sixth degree.

Both men were processed and released on $5,000 bonds. Gonzalez is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday, April 20, and Santamaria is scheduled to appear on Monday, April 18.