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57 Arrested in Anaheim Fencing Sting

Times Staff Writer

Want some advice on how to make it big in crime?

“I learned two things about crime: You take your time and you don’t trust your friends. They’ll stab you in the back every time.”

“We plan everything ahead of time. The pad backs up to a drainage ditch and freeway, giving us an easy escape route.”

“I don’t use drugs, I sell drugs. I have never been in jail, and the reason is that I’m careful. I don’t make mistakes.”

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Each of these pearls of wisdom was recorded on videotape by undercover Anaheim police officers as they smiled and bought the stolen cars, television sets, credit cards and guns brought to them by these experts on crime--all 105 of them.

In Anaheim Apartment

On Friday, more than half of them were arrested at the conclusion of a huge stolen property sting, a phony fencing operation set up in an Anaheim apartment.

Most of the suspects who were not arrested were already in jail, police said.

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The 10-month investigation netted the Anaheim Police Department’s Special Operations Division Crime Task Force Unit nearly $1.4 million in recovered stolen property--far exceeding their expectations.

“Our goal was to get about $350,000 worth,” said Sgt. Jim Flammini, who was in charge of the operation. “This wasn’t police chasing crooks. This was crooks chasing cops. They wanted our money. And we were happy to do that.”

Anaheim Police Chief Joseph Molloy announced at a morning news conference that 57 suspects had been arrested Friday morning in Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.

Full Names, Addresses

Beginning at 6:30 a.m., 76 officers bearing arrest warrants paid visits to the suspects’ homes. Many of the suspects had made it easy for detectives to find them, giving their full names and addresses to what they believed were fellow criminals.

A total of 105 arrest warrants were issued in the sting, charging suspects with crimes involving robbery, burglary, grand theft, receiving stolen property, auto theft and drug sales, Molloy said.

In a total of 220 transactions, police bought everything from guns and electronic equipment to new cars and--in one instance--five semi-tractor trucks.

Police said they were able to return 99% of the stolen property.

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