Three arrested on retail theft, conspiracy charges

Three individuals charged with conspiracy to commit theft are moving toward trial after waiving preliminary hearings Wednesday.

According to criminal complaints filed by state police at Rockview, Jose Camacho-Preciado, 31, William Contreras, 31, and Harvy Ramirez-Ortiz, 31, were stopped at about 8:20 a.m. on July 26 along Interstate 80 in Rush Township after failing to discontinue a signal after merging into the right lane.

When the trooper approached the vehicle, the complaint said, he allegedly detected the odor of marijuana from inside the SUV. Calling for backup, troopers initiated a probable cause search.

The search revealed a magnetic security tag detacher, bags lined with foil and duct tape and a grinder with suspected marijuana inside, the complaint said. A field test confirmed the presence of marijuana.

“It was determined that individuals line bags with foil in order to defeat alarm systems found in merchandise stores,” the complaint said, “and the hard tag detacher is utilized to remove the security tags on retail merchandise.”

Contreras was unable to provide identification, the complaint said. Camacho-Preciado and Ramirez-Ortiz provided troopers with Colombian passports, though state police intelligence reported that Ramirez-Ortiz never entered the U.S. and there is no history on the passport he supplied.

Contreras allegedly claimed ownership of the grinder and a foil-lined bag, the complaint said.

All were arraigned before District Judge Kelley Gillette-Walker and charged with misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit retail theft and possession of an instrument of crime with intent, according to court documents. Contreras was charged with additional misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Bail was set at $500,000. All three waived a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews