A Georgia man pleaded guilty today in federal district court to conspiring to buy, receive and possess goods stolen from multiple interstate tractor trailer and container shipments throughout Georgia and the southeastern United States between May 2005 and July 2009. John R Smith Jr. of Mableton, Georgia, also pleaded guilty to related cargo theft and money laundering charges.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Kennan said, "Cargo theft is an under-reported criminal phenomenon that has disastrous cascading economic consequences to Georgians. This annual estimated five billion dollar criminal activity negatively impacts transportation providers, retailers and consumers through higher shipping, insurance premiums and retail costs. These modern-day pirates cruise the nation's asphalt interstate corridors and parking lots, much like their predecessors who sailed the open seas for unsuspecting targets of opportunity. These pirates have been stopped."
Smith, who operated "Smith Sales Company"out of warehouses in Mableton and Hiram, Georgia, conspired with others to buy, receive and possess goods stolen from nearly two dozen interstate tractor trailer and container shipments valued at more than $3 million throughout the Southeastern United States, including shipments stolen in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The tractor trailers and containers were stolen while parked at truck stops, motels, and container storage facilities, often at night. Smith and others then sold the goods at discounted prices to consumers and wholesalers.
The stolen goods included a $123,000 shipment of brand name TVs and computers, a $164,000 shipment of Casio, Inc. electronics, a $1.8 million shipment of computerized Husqvarna and Pfaff sewing machines, among other items. Many of the stolen shipments were bound for major retailers such as Best Buy, Lowe's, Sam's Club, Target, Wal-Mart, OfficeMax, and Office Depot.