Man charged in retail theft scheme

October 9, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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CRANBERRY TWP — One of five people accused of running an organized retail theft scheme in Butler and Allegheny counties was arrested last week.

Brian T. Lugin, 33, of McKees Rocks, is charged with use of an access device and conspiracy to use an access device, both felonies, as well as misdemeanor charges of retail theft, conspiracy to commit retail theft, theft by deception, conspiracy to commit theft by deception, receiving stolen property and conspiracy to receive stolen property.

According to the affidavit, Cranberry Township police were contacted in May by a loss prevention manager for Marshalls about a series of organized retail thefts. A group of people were reportedly stealing merchandise from the Marshalls store in Cranberry Township as well as stores in Ross Township, Homestead, Pittsburgh, Robinson Township and Scott Township in Allegheny County.

The group also organized the return of the stolen items in exchange for store gift cards. The complaint notes that 28 incidents took place between Jan. 26 and May 9 for merchandise totaling $4,258.47.

Lugin is listed in the complaint as one of the defendants, along with four others. Cranberry police said Thursday that warrants are out for the arrest of those individuals.

The complaint notes one of those individuals committed all 14 thefts by walking out of the stores with the merchandise. The merchandise was then returned to the stores by the other individuals, including Lugin, the complaint states. Lugin allegedly completed just one of the transactions for $156.15.

The gift cards were then sold to local pawn stores or to an online, secondhand gift card business for cash value.

The complaint notes that while Lugin does not have prior retail theft convictions, the other individuals do.

Lugin is being held in Butler County Prison on $10,000 bond. An Oct. 25 preliminary hearing is scheduled.

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J.W.  Johnson Jr.

J.W. Johnson Jr.

J.W. Johnson Jr. is the bureau chief of the Cranberry Eagle. Johnson is a native of Bellaire, Ohio, and graduated from Bellaire High School in 2004. He is a 2009 graduate of Ohio University in Athens with a bachelor of specialized studies degree in English and journalism. While there, he served as a reporter and editor at The Post, the university’s student-run, independent newspaper. In 2009, he was hired as a reporter for The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register in Wheeling, W.Va. Over the course of eight years, he also served as Marshall County bureau chief, city editor and news editor. He also won two first place West Virginia Press Association Awards for his reporting and design work. He and his wife, Maureen, live in Carnegie.