45th Precinct cracks tool-fencing operation

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A sting, conducted by the 45th Precinct, nabbed its first suspect in an ongoing investigation to bring down a local fencing operation of stolen industrial and commercial tools and equipment.

Richard Defraine, who owns a general contracting business, New Dimensions Home Improvements, located at 1517 Rowland Avenue, was recently arrested for allegedly buying stolen tools by the 45th Precinct.

Local authorities also impounded his truck, which had an apparent involvement with the suspected crime; although the vehicle was later returned.

An unidentified resident in the area claims that Defraine’s home was the subject of a search by the police, but  officers from the 45th Precinct would only confirm that an arrest had been made, and were unable release details of the case, as their investigation continues. 

While the full-extent of the fencing operation has not yet been made public, it seems likely its network covers a wide swath of the local area. Authorities said they expect further arrests.

Defraine was arrested near Westchester Square, leaving room for speculation the operation is based nearby.

Local hardware stores weighed in on the matter, saying they were concerned about the possibility of theft and lost business any fencing operation may cause. None have thus far noticed anything pilfered.

Chris Cannon of Superior Tools and Hardware at 1059 Morris Park Avenue, said he isn’t  missing any tools.

“I run a hardware store, but in addition I installed a security camera system, and obviously we have cameras which act as a deterrent,” Cannon noted. “As far as anything happening here at the store, we have not had any thefts.”

William Pedone, whose family has operated Van Nest True Value Hardware, 669 Morris Park Avenue, for 86 years, explained worries about crime are always a concern.

“I don’t encourage people coming into my store to sell tools at all,” Pedone stated. “I have seen some pretty interesting stuff walking through the door that people try to sell.”

Pedone said there was a brazen break in last year, with bandits attempting to take his cash register. The robbers were caught in Westchester Square late at night, and Pedone said he has taken extra precautions.

“I will encourage my guys to keep a look out for anything suspicious,” Pedone continued. “We always keep the power tools under lock and key.”

Updated 5:29 pm, October 21, 2011
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