Sunday, August 31 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-08-31 19:28:29 GMT
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A 61-year-old Gilbert man and his 89-year-old mother are suspected of selling items stolen from major retailers at garage sales in the Phoenix area.
Larry Ruthenberg was arrested and booked into jail on charges of fraudulent schemes and organized retail theft, according to a Gilbert Police Department news release. His mother, Doris Ruthenberg, is facing unspecified charges with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.
Police said Larry Ruthenberg enlisted his mother in the schemes. Officers had the pair under surveillance and watched them commit 32 separate thefts in five days, the release stated.
"He takes her in a wheelchair into a store. They fill up bags of whatever they want," said Gilbert police Sgt. Jesse Sanger.
"He literally would wheel her out the doors, past the cashiers, not pay and take her to the van and load up the property. (They would then) drive to the next store and start all over," Sanger continued.
They would later sell the items in their original packaging and organized by type on tables and hanging racks at garage sales, police said.
Search warrants at the suspects' house and storage lockers resulted in three large truck loads of stolen property, according to the release.
Investigators said they had recovered more than $130,000 worth of stolen property from retailers, including JC Penney, Barnes and Noble, Target, Home Depot, Sears, Bed Bath and Beyond, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Macys, Fry's Food Stores, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Office Max, Toys-R-Us, Lowes, Walgreens, Kohls and TJ Maxx.
Police said Larry Ruthenberg has been arrested multiple times for retail fraud in Michigan. He and his mother moved to Arizona in June.
Larry Ruthenberg was in jail on a $36,000 bond.
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