RICHLAND, WA - Since April 2014, the Richland Police Street Crimes Unit and detectives from the Metro Drug Task Force have been investigating a series of retail thefts throughout the Tri-Cities.
During the investigation, officers got some information that lead them to 49-year-old Fernando Cano of Pasco, who was known as a "fence" for stolen property. Officers had learned that Cano had stolen and sold 150-200 pair of men's Levis jeans and had transported them to Mexico to be sold. Cano had also arranged the theft of gas powered tools such as line trimmers and chain saws.
SCU investigators contacted employees of Fred Meyer who assisted in the acquisition of 20 pair of Levis jeans. A detective from the Metro Drug Task Force assisted in setting up a sale of the merchandise to Cano at his home in Pasco for $200. During the sale Cano asked if it would be possible to steal a Toro lawn mower, DeWalt reciprocating saw, and a pair of Chinook boots in size 9. As the investigation progressed, Cano called and asked for Home Depot, Lowes, Fred Meyer and JC Penney gift cards.
Another controlled sale of jeans took place on June 25th. The Metro Drug Task Force assisted again in the transaction that included 21 pair of jeans. During this sale, Cano put the jeans into a shed and provided information on additional items he wanted the undercover personnel to steal. JC Penney was identified as a source of some material but Cano warned the detectives to be careful due to the cameras in place to deter theft.
On June 26 officer served a search warrant at Cano's home in Pasco. Metro Drug Task Force detectives and Pasco PD personnel assisted Richland's SCU in serving the warrant. Cano and 38-year-old Kaleb A. Shaffer of Pasco were found inside a car in the alley near Cano's home. Shaffer stated that he was at the home to sell a jack that had been stolen earlier in the day from an auto parts store in Pasco and a DeWalt drill stolen from the Richland Home Depot. He was taken into custody by Pasco PD.
Inside the home and shed located on the property were 136 pair of jeans, numerous pairs of new shoes, 3 lawn mowers, 4 line trimmers, 2 chain saws, 2 leaf blowers, Kobalt hand tools, 2 pressure washers, hedge trimmer, numerous Washington EBT cards, stolen gift cards, and a firearm stolen in a 2008 Richland case. Over $40,000 in cash was scattered throughout the house. Stolen property has an estimated value of over $20,000.
This case is part of a continuing retail theft and fraud investigation. Members of Kroger Corporation played a significant role in the apprehension of this individual and continue to be partners in combatting organized retail theft.
Cano faces charges of Organized Retail Theft, Trafficking in Stolen Property 1st Degree, and Possession of Stolen Firearm. Shaffer faces charges of Trafficking Stolen Property and some felony warrants.