In a significant case involving a sprawling retail-theft operation, a former pastor, Robert Dell, and several accomplices have been charged with running a sophisticated scheme that targeted Home Depot stores, resulting in the theft of more than $1.4 million worth of merchandise. Dell faces charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, and dealing in stolen property, while four others, including his wife and mother, have also been charged in connection with the case.
Dell, who previously served as a pastor at The Rock Church near Tampa, Florida, allegedly orchestrated this extensive theft ring. He operated under the guise of a pastor affiliated with a recovery program and used his position to manipulate vulnerable individuals into committing theft on his behalf. The stolen goods were subsequently sold online via an eBay store titled “Anointed Liquidator.”
The investigation into this retail-theft operation sheds light on the modus operandi of such schemes, which have raised concerns among corporations about their financial impact. Home Depot collaborated with law enforcement to track down Robert Dell, whom prosecutors have identified as a “fence” responsible for collecting stolen goods and facilitating their resale.
According to a search warrant affidavit cited by the Wall Street Journal, Home Depot loss-prevention investigators initially observed two individuals exiting a Florida store in March carrying stolen cordless impact wrenches and cordless die grinders. The investigators promptly reported the suspects’ vehicle information to law enforcement.
Over the next two months, the Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Department monitored the suspects’ activities as they visited stores across seven counties. Their stolen merchandise was consistently delivered to a garage identified as belonging to Robert Dell.
In June, law enforcement officers arrested the two individuals involved in the theft operation. One of them, a long-time associate of Dell, revealed that she had worked with him for five years, earning as much as $10,000 a day. Dell would retrieve the stolen items from these individuals and subsequently resell them through his eBay store, “Anointed Liquidator.”
According to eBay, they had previously flagged Dell’s account in 2017 due to the sale of a large inventory of items frequently targeted by thieves. The company confirmed that they shut down the account earlier this year.
The charges against Robert Dell and his co-conspirators include racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, and dealing in stolen property. Dell’s wife and mother allegedly played roles in the collection, packaging, and online sale of the stolen goods. Daniel Mace and Jessica Wild, two other individuals connected to the operation, were responsible for stealing the majority of the merchandise, often targeting stores multiple times daily.
This case underscores the efforts of law enforcement agencies, including Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody, to combat organized retail theft. Moody highlighted the success of the Florida Organized Retail Crime Enforcement (FORCE) task force in dismantling criminal operations engaged in retail theft.
Since 2019, Moody’s office has filed over 90 cases and charged more than 300 defendants involved in organized retail theft. Her office boasts an almost 100% conviction rate in such cases.
The Rock Church, where Dell served as a pastor, has distanced itself from him. In a statement posted on their website, the church clarified that Dell had not been the pastor for over two years and had never been the founding pastor.
Home Depot has yet to issue a formal statement on the case. However, the company’s vice president of asset protection, Scott Glenn, noted that the number of thefts in Tampa had decreased following Dell’s arrest. Glenn also suggested that the vacuum left by the dismantled theft ring might prompt others to engage in similar activities.