3 men accused of stealing from appliance shipments Police say truckers took washers, dryers en route to Mideast

March 20, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Refrigerators, washing machines and dryers being shipped to the Mideast were stolen in East Baltimore and resold on the black market by a theft ring uncovered this week, city police said.

Three men -- two truckers and the manager of a city packaging company -- have been arrested as part of a widening federal investigation that starts in Belcamp in Harford County and ends 6,000 miles away in Amman, Jordan.

The suspects are accused of stealing portions of appliance shipments between a General Electric Co. warehouse and the Dundalk Marine Terminal.

Police said some of the appliances were diverted -- allegedly by truck drivers who made a brief stop at a packaging company in the 4000 block of E. Baltimore St.

The rest of the shipment went on to Dundalk, then to the Middle East.

Police raided the packaging plant, Felco Bag & Burlap Co., on Tuesday and said they broke up a group allegedly responsible for tens of thousands of dollars in thefts over the past several years.

"It's so odd," said Southeastern District Lt. Carmine Baratta, who was on the raid. "You go through this warehouse and you see all this packaging material. Then you see a row of refrigerators."

Baratta said GE officials were "tipped off because people who were buying the appliances on the black market were sending in the warranties."

Company officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Police first heard of the alleged scheme from suspicious trucking company executives.

The two truckers arrested were identified as Welford Canady, 37, of the 900 block of Wieker Road in Severn; and Dwayne X. Alston, 31, of the 600 block of N. Augusta Ave. in Baltimore.

Both were charged with theft and conspiracy to commit theft.

Also charged with theft and conspiracy was the Felco manager, Jeffrey Feldman, 43, of the 12500 block of Sagamore Forest Lane in Reisterstown.

The three suspects were released on their own recognizance yesterday.

Feldman could not be reached for comment; a woman who answered the telephone at the company said representatives had nothing to say.

'A detour from the route'

Baratta said the alleged scheme involved truckers from Midway Transportation Inc., an independent company based in New Jersey with an office in Baltimore.

The truckers were hired by GE to deliver 40,000-pound shipping cartons filled with appliances to Dundalk Marine Terminal.

"The trucks took a detour from the route and ended up at a warehouse at 4001 E. Baltimore St.," Baratta said.

There, he said, the customs seals were broken and a small portion of the shipment was unloaded.

The crates were resealed and delivered to the terminal, where they are supposed to be weighed -- and where the weight is checked against an original tonnage listed on the seal.

"Somehow it was slipping through," the lieutenant said.

Police said they are trying to trace how the appliances were sold and to whom.

On Monday, police said, they found 18 dryers -- representing about 1,000 pounds of a 40,000-pound shipment -- along with other appliances allegedly diverted from earlier shipments.

Pub Date: 3/20/97

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