Family Traveled Country Allegedly Stealing $7 Million Worth of Toys
(CHICAGO) — A family accused of using their minivan to drive across country and steal American Girl Dolls and Furbys from dozens of Toys-R-Us stores has been arrested and charged with stealing more than $7 million worth of goods, authorities said.
Branko Bogdanov, 58, Lela Bogdanov, 52, and their daughter Julia Bogdanov, 34, are accused of stealing mainly from Toys-R-Us and Barnes & Nobles stores across six states and selling the goods on eBay or to another seller to put on eBay.
According to a criminal complaint filed against the three in Chicago federal court, investigators at Barnes & Noble first caught onto the family’s scam when they noticed eBay sellers hawking tons of goods from the two companies.
Store investigators brought their information to authorities, who tracked down the eBay user. That person, who has not been identified by authorities, cooperated with law enforcement officials by showing them all of the goods that the Bogdanovs had sold him as well as text messages and photos about future sales.
Though the goods were worth more than $7 million, the family is accused of making more than $4 million by selling them.
The police also conducted surveillance on the family as they traveled across Louisiana and Texas and gathered store reports from locations in Maryland and Florida to help document the family’s shoplifting spree, the court papers said.
In a Maryland store, company detectives caught the family trying to walk out with American Girl Dolls they had not purchased — a confrontation ensued and Lela Bogdanov pushed a store employee while Branko Bogdanov began to grab the hood of her jacket and choke her, according to authorities.
The family appeared in a Chicago courtroom Wednesday, according to the Chicago Sun Times. Prosecutors told a federal judge that the Bogdanovs are ethnic Romani immigrants from the former Yugoslavia. They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Court papers charge the trio with transporting in interstate commerce goods of a value of $5,000 or more.
Their next court appearance will be on Monday.
Michael Falconer, an attorney for Branko Bogdanov, told ABC News that despite federal allegations the family has been stealing for years, they are charged with crimes stemming from only two days in February. He said the defendants will plead not guilty on Monday. They are being held in the meantime.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio