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Man Waives Hearing on Charges from Spree of Retail Thefts from Walmart

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 12:06 AM

Posted by Aly Delp

Christopher HuellenMONROE TWP., Pa. (EYT) – A man accused of multiple retail thefts from Walmart stores throughout northwestern Pennsylvania recently waived his preliminary hearing on a Monroe Township retail theft.

According to court documents, on Tuesday, June 5, in Magisterial District Judge Timothy P. Schill’s office, the following charges against 34-year-old Christopher Michael Hoellen, of McKeesport, were waived for court:

- Corrupt Organizations – Employee, Felony 1
- Retail Theft-Take Merchandise, Felony 3 (seven counts)
- Organized Retail Theft, Felony 2
- Receiving Stolen Property, Felony 3

One count of first-degree felony conspiracy racketeering was withdrawn.

Charges have been transferred to the Clarion County Court of Common Pleas.

Huellen remains lodged in the Clarion County Jail on $100,000.00 cash bail.

Details of the case:

According to a criminal complaint, the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation was assisting numerous local police departments in and around communities in Allegheny, Clarion, Clearfield, Erie, and Jefferson Counties, in a case involving an organized retail theft ring primarily focused on stealing high end electronic items from Walmart stores during the late night and early morning hours.

During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that several retail theft incidents occurred at multiple Walmart store locations involving the same white male utilizing what appeared to be either of two of the same vehicles. This individual entered the stores during the late night or early morning hours and targeted the higher valued items, usually electronics, to steal.

Gibsonia Theft

The complaint states that one such incident occurred on October 19, 2017, at approximately 1:42 a.m. at the Walmart store located at 300 Walmart Drive, Gibsonia, in Richland Township, Allegheny County. This incident was reported to the Northern Regional Police Department.

In this incident, it was reported that Christopher Michael Huellen (identified through store video surveillance), was seen entering the store at approximately 1:42 a.m. Huellen placed numerous items including two plastic tote containers and items from the store electronics section into a shopping cart and then took the cart containing the totes and electronics to the lawn and garden section of the store.

According to the complaint, Huellen then left the camera view for a brief period, but when he returned, the electronics and totes are no longer in his shopping cart. He then returned to the lawn and garden section and took the two totes and electronic items to the outdoor area of lawn and garden section which caused an alarm to activate.

The footage shows Huellen throwing the two totes over the fence to the side parking lot area of the store. Finally, he exited the store, entered a dark-colored Honda minivan, and drove around to the side of the building and picked up the two totes containing the electronic items that he threw over the fence into his vehicle and left the parking lot at approximately 2:20 a.m.

While investigating this theft incident, investigators from the Northern Regional Police Department utilized license plate reader cameras in the area of the scene of the incident. Store surveillance cameras confirmed that the suspect’s vehicle was the only vehicle to enter the intersection with the plate reader cameras at the time of the incident. The plate reader cameras captured the image of a Pennsylvania registration plate which showed the vehicle as a 2007 Honda Odyssey van registered to Huellen’s wife.

According to the complaint, during the incident, Huellen stole several electronic items including Garmin G.P.S. units and JBL Wireless speakers. The total value of the items stolen from the store during this incident was $1,467.94.

The complaint also notes that Huellen pawned many of the same type of items, including Garmin G.P.S. units and JBL Wireless speakers, at Trader Electronics in Pittsburgh later in the day on October 19, 2017 (the same day as the theft incident).

Monroe Township, Clarion County Theft

Another incident occurred on March 3, 2018, at approximately 6:30 a.m. at the Walmart Store located at 63 Perkins Road in Monroe Township, Clarion County. This incident was reported to the Pennsylvania State Police Clarion station.

In this incident, it was reported that Christopher Huellen (identified through store video surveillance), walked around the store selecting a wide variety of items, including several high valued electronic items. After filling the shopping cart with these items, Huellen proceeded to the garden center entrance of the store and then exited the store by way of the garden center doors and was met by another suspect, who is unknown at this time, in a green-colored SUV, that pulled to the entrance of the store.

According to the complaint, both individuals then proceeded to load the stolen items into the vehicle and then left the area.

During this incident, Huellen stole several electronic items including Nest Brand security cameras, Nest Brand thermostats, and two Apple 4k televisions. The total value of the items stolen from the store during this incident was $2,761.84.

The complaint also notes that Huellen pawned many of the same type of items, including Nest Brand security cameras, Nest Brand thermostats, and two Applem4k television sets at Trader Electronics in Pittsburgh on March 9, 2018.

Washington Township, Erie County Theft Attempt

Another incident occurred on March 17, 2018, at approximately 4:44 a.m. at the Walmart store located at 108 Washington Towne Boulevard in Washington Township, Erie County. This incident was reported to the Pennsylvania State Police Erie station.

In this incident, it was reported that Huellen (identified through store surveillance video), entered the store and selected smaller grocery items to place in his shopping cart. Huellen then entered the stationery department of the store and placed multiple Texas Instrument calculators in the bottom of the cart and covered them with the items he already had in it.

According to the complaint, Huellen eventually entered the electronics department of the store where he placed several high dollar electronic items on the bottom shelves. At approximately 5:00 a.m., Huellen left the items he “staged” on the shelves and proceeded to the household goods department where he retrieved a large black tote and hid it in the toy department.

Huellen then returned to the electronic items that he staged and rapidly put them into his cart and returned to the toy department. He then put the electronic items into the black tote and left it hidden in the toy department before returning to the household goods department and selecting a second, smaller black tote. He took this second tote to the toy department and left it there and returned to the staged items he had in electronics.

Huellen then placed the remainder of the staged items into the shopping cart and returned to the toy department and filled the second tote with items. He took his shopping cart containing only the smaller grocery items to the front of the store and left it. He then retrieved a second shopping cart and returned to the toy department. Once there, he placed the two totes containing the high dollar merchandise into the second cart.

He proceeded with the second cart to the front of the store and left it to go outside to apparently look for his ride. He returned back inside the store to retrieve the second cart with items but was deterred by the employees that were present in this area. He then left the store empty-handed and was picked up by a dark blue van whose operator is unknown at this time.

During this incident, Huellen attempted to steal several high valued electronic items including Texas Instruments calculators, Apple 4k Televisions, and H&R Block Tax software. The total value of the items he attempted to steal from the store during this incident was $4,628.61.

Erie Theft

Another incident occurred on March 17, 2018, at approximately 7:00 a.m. at the Walmart Store located at 2711 Elm Street in Erie. This incident was reported to the Erie City Police Department.

In this incident, it was reported that Huellen (identified through store surveillance video), entered the store at approximately 7:00 a.m. and stole electronic equipment. He then exited the lawn and garden section of the store with the items and left the area in a blue minivan.

During this incident, Huellen stole several electronic items including Roku Ultra 4k Streaming Players. The total value of the items stolen from the store during this incident was $2,118.00.

The complaint notes that Huellen pawned many of the same type of items, including Roku Streaming Players, at Trader Electronics in Pittsburgh on March 19, 2018.

Punxsutawney Theft

Another incident occurred on March 26, 2018, at approximately 3:00 a.m. at the Walmart store located at 21920 Route 119 in Punxsutawney. This incident was reported to the Pennsylvania State Police Punxsutawney station.

In this incident, it was reported that Huellen (identified through store surveillance video), entered the Walmart store and proceeded to the electronics department where he rearranged items in such a fashion that once he removed the items that he stole, there was other merchandise on the shelves in its place to mask that anything was missing.

After he arranged the merchandise, Huellen retrieved a shopping cart and a large plastic tote container. He then returned to the electronics department and placed the items inside the tote. Next, he proceeded to the lawn and garden area of the store where he left via an alarmed chain link doorway. He manipulated the alarm on the door so that it would not activate.

Once outside, Huellen put the stolen merchandise into what appeared to be a Kia Sportage SUV which was driven by another unknown actor and fled the area.

During this incident, Huellen stole several electronic items including Roku Ultra Streaming Players, Roku Streaming Stick players, Go Pro Hero 5 Black cameras, and Go Pro Hero Session cameras. The total value of items stolen from the store during this incident was $4,901.71.

The complaint notes that Huellen pawned many of the same type of items including Roku Ultra Streaming Players, Roku Streaming Stick Players, Go Pro Hero 5 Black cameras, and Go Pro Hero Session cameras at Trader Electronics in Pittsburgh later on March 26, 2018 (the same day as the theft incident).

Lawrence Township, Clearfield County Theft

Another incident occurred on March 26, 2018, at approximately 5:00 a.m. at the Walmart store located at 100 Supercenter Drive in Lawrence Township, Clearfield County. This incident was reported to the Lawrence Township Police Department.

The complaint notes that the location of this incident is approximately one hour drive away from the incident that occurred in Punxsutawney on the same date, and the individual in the store surveillance of both incidents is wearing the same outfit (blue sweatshirt, light colored pants, and baseball hat with the letter “P” affixed on it). Also, the same vehicle appears to be used in both incidents, a light colored SUV.

In this incident, it was reported that Huellen (identified through store surveillance video), entered the store via the grocery side entrance, selected a shopping cart, and spent several minutes in the grocery section of the store. He then proceeded to the electronics section of the store and took several electronic items off of the shelves and placed them in a different aisle.

Huellen then continued to roam the store, stopping in the lawn and garden section to turn on the automatic doors to the outdoor section. He selected a large blue plastic tote container and took it to the outdoor section, and from there, he continued to roam the store, returning to retrieve the items he selected, and moved from the electronics section. Huellen then took those items back to the outdoor section and concealed them in the blue tote container.

Huellen finally took his cart to the self-checkout section of the store and left it. He then proceeded back to the outdoor area, retrieved the tote container that had the items concealed in it, and left the store via a fire door on the patio. He was met outside by what appeared to be a light-colored SUV (possibly a Kia Sportage) driven by another unknown individual. Huellen got into the vehicle and then left the area.

During this incident, Huellen stole several electronic items including Roku Ultra Streaming Players, Nest Brand thermostats, and Nest Brand security cameras. The total value of items stolen from the store during this incident was $4,924.61.

The complaint notes that Huellen pawned many of the same type of items, including Roku Ultra Streaming Players, Nest Brand thermostats, and Nest Brand security cameras at Trader Electronics in Pittsburgh later on March 26, 2018 (the same date as the incident).

Police Investigate Huellen

According to the complaint, the Elizabeth Township, Pennsylvania Police Department is familiar with Huellen as they were responsible for the primary coverage area that encompassed his last known address on Narragansett Drive in McKeesport, Pennsylvania.

During the course of this investigation, that department provided information that Huellen was known to drive an older, turquoise colored SUV style vehicle which did not have a valid registration, as well as a blue Honda Minivan with a known Pennsylvania registration.

Elizabeth Township Police Department also provided information that the Honda Minivan was registered to Huellen’s wife, who he resided with. Similar vehicles to each of these were seen in store video surveillance during the theft incidents.

The complaint notes that when pawning items at Trader Electronics in Pittsburgh, Huellen was required to complete paperwork conveying the understanding that the items he was pawning were his to sell. He was also required to produce picture identification during each transaction.

The complaint also notes that according to a criminal history query, Christopher Michael Huellen has seven previous convictions for retail theft in the State of Pennsylvania.


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