The San Francisco District Attorney's Office says a milk tea shop in the Tenderloin was front for an international fencing operation and was fueled by goods stolen from cars across the Bay Area.
“The goal of this operation was to map out the flow of stolen goods in San Francisco and beyond,” said District Attorney Chesa Boudin.
He said building the case involved using bait cars and electronics with trackers. They managed to identify items stolen from as far away as Morgan Hill -- those items then made their way to the Quickly Boba Shop.
That then served as a front for the stolen items that were sent to places like Southern California, Dallas, Hong Kong and Vietnam, according to Boudin.
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The husband of the shop owner, Quoc Le, has been arrested and charged with possession of stolen goods. And because investigators say this is part of an international operation, he could face federal charges as well.
"One of our biggest hopes is that this operation will deter future similar criminal activity,” said Boudin. “We know that lots of people commit auto burglaries in San Francisco because they don't fear they'll be arrested."
The DA’s chief investigator said SFPD did help with some intelligence gathering and federal agents from the U.S. Postal Inspectors Office and Department of Homeland Security investigators were deeply involved as well.
"With their help, we were able to pursue criminals overseas and abroad from California,” said Chief DA Investigator Steven Tull.
"The primary goal, I want to be very clear, was never to arrest the people breaking into those cars,” said Boudin. “We let the police take the lead on those kinds of investigations and we prosecute the cases they bring us."
If you're among the many victims of a Bay Area car break-in, and you're wondering if some of your property was recovered as part of this investigation, DA Boudin said his office is working on putting together a website to list the recovered items and create a way for victims to get their items back.