Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Shoplifting suspects skip out on hearing

Duo may be part of N.Y. City crime ring

By Stephenie Steitzer
Enquirer Contributor

        BURLINGTON — Two people from the New York City area arrested last week on charges of stealing $50,000 worth of clothing skipped their preliminary hearings Monday.

        New York resident Jorge A. Nakano, 22, and New Jersey resident Tasha L. Mercado, 23, each posted $500 bail July 18, the same day they were arraigned, and did not appear for a 1 p.m.hearing.

        Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport police arrested the two the day before, saying they tried to pick up 15 pieces of luggage full of stolen clothing. The merchandise came from stores such as Ann Taylor, Talbots, Abercrombie & Fitch and Eddie Bauer. Police believe they are part of a New York City shoplifting ring.

        “More than likely they are back in New York,” Lt. Kevin Murphy said. “Realistically, it's going to be awfully hard to get ahold of these folks again.”

        Boone County District Judge Charles Moore issued a warrant for Mr. Nakano, also known as Jose Rodriguez, and Ms. Mercado on Monday and set bail at $25,000 each if they are caught.

        Boone County District Judge Michael Collins, who handled their cases last week, said $500 is the standard amount of bail for shoplifting charges of more than $300.

        Judge Collins said he didn't know when he set bail that the two allegedly had stolen $50,000 worth of clothing, and said he might have set it higher if he had known.

        More than 1,100 articles of clothing were recovered.

        Lt. Murphy said seven other stores in Florence and Lexington have contacted police about the missing clothing since the story was publicized last week.

        “We still have a good handful of it that is unclaimed,” he added.

        Two other suspects fled from the airport on Tuesday and probably escaped in a vehicle that a fifth suspect was driving. Lt. Murphy said police do not know their identities and believe they are using fake IDs.

        “We are going to go forward with the case and continue to get them indicted on the felony charges,” he said.

        The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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