This pair of thieves gives new meaning to the term “do-it-yourself.”
Two Queens residents have been charge with stealing more than $14,000 in building materials and other merchandise from Home Depot stores across Queens and Long Island dating back to last August, prosecutors announced on Thursday.
Armando Diaz, 23, of 23rd Avenue in College Point and Kevin Marmolejo, 21, of 59th Road in Maspeth were arraigned on Wednesday, Jan. 11, on a host of burglary, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and conspiracy charges.
“The defendants in this case are accused of going from store to store with the intent of stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement on Jan. 12. “One of the defendants, when apprehended, was allegedly in possession of fake $20 bills. This kind of thievery will not be tolerated.”
Prosecutors said that Diaz, along with an unapprehended suspect, first shoplifted from the Home Depot store in Flushing at about 7:40 a.m. on Aug. 17, 2016. They avoided a cashier and walked out of the store with a cart full of 5-gallon paint drums, sheets of plexiglass, bifold doors and other items worth about $4,000.
Several months later, authorities noted, Diaz and a different unapprehended individual came calling to the East Elmhurst Home Depot at 7:15 a.m. on Oct. 26. They would leave with a cart full of light fixtures, paint, plexiglass panels and doors — an estimated $4,500 in merchandise — without paying.
On Jan. 10, law enforcement sources said Diaz and Marmolejo allegedly drove out to the Home Depot store on Jericho Turnpike in Nassau County and stole a cart full of epoxy, Tyvek house wrap, primer sealer, vinyl flooring, garbage bags and other merchandise. They allegedly left the store without paying for more than $3,500 in items.
The pair, however, did not stop there; Brown said that the duo then went to another Home Depot out in Deer Park in Suffolk County and stole another $2,500 in merchandise, removing a cart full of recessed lighting, a Moen faucet fixture, a ceiling medallion, a colored bulb and more.
Each of the incidents were caught on surveillance camera videos that police obtained during their investigation. In questioning Marmolejo, police learned that Diaz would distract an employee at a self-checkout register as Marmolejo wheeled the cart of merchandise toward the location. Diaz would then say the word “salga” (Spanish for go or leave) as a code for Marmolejo to take off with the stolen goods.
Detectives stopped Diaz and Marmolejo at the corner of 130th Street and 23rd Avenue, where they were found in possession of more than $6,000 in stolen Home Depot merchandise. Additionally, Marmolejo was found to have counterfeit 20-dollar bills with a purported value of $460.
Diaz was ordered held on $100,000 bail, while Marmolejo’s bail was set at $50,000; they are due back in court on Jan. 25. If convicted, Diaz faces up to seven years in prison, while Marmolejo may serve up to 15 years behind bars.