LONDONDERRY, NH – Two men were arrested for repeating a liquor theft scheme at least nine times between January and February in one Londonderry store.
On April 9, Londonderry police arrested Dylan Jensen, 28, of Londonderry and the following day arrested Cleber Desouza, 45, of Hudson. Police say Jensen aided Desouza in the scheme by acting as a lookout while Desouza stole bottles of Hennessy cognac during store operating hours.
Desouza was charged with nine counts of theft by unauthorized taking at a value range of $0 to $1,000. Police charged Jensen with nine counts of criminal liability for the conduct of another.
With the help of New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet staff, police were able to catch the two men in the act in security camera footage on Jan. 18, 20, 26, 27 and Feb. 8, 10, 11, 15, 22, 23, 24, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Each day, Jensen and Desouza arrived at the store on 16 Michels Way at approximately 2:55 p.m.
“Since the opening of the brand new liquor stores off of both exits 4 and 5, and in part due to their proximity due to the interstate, we frequently take theft reports from both locations, and have also seen an uptick in people using stolen gift cards, or fraudulent credit cards to make purchases,” said Capt. Patrick Cheetham of the Londonderry Police Department.
Before police were able to identify the two men, they posted images from security footage to the department Facebook account on March 4, seeking help from the public.
“Calling all super sleuths,” the post stated. “These outstanding gentlemen visited the Exit 4 (Interstate 93) NH State Liquor Store on February 24th, and walked out with some items that they seem to have forgotten to pay for. In fact, they were recognized as frequent flyers of forgetfulness by the staff at the store later on.”
The two men were so regular, that staff began to recognize the pattern. In one instance, a store manager confronted Desouza about a bottle of Hennessy concealed in his pants pocket, and Desouza allegedly ignored the manager, walked away and surreptitiously placed the bottle on an aisle shelf where it didn’t belong before leaving.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Jensen would act as a lookout while Desouza concealed a 200ml or 375ml bottle of Hennessy in his pants. Each would pick up an off-brand $5 bottle of cognac like Courvoisier and meet at the cash register where Desouza would pay for both bottles with a credit card. They would not pay for the Hennessy, which was valued at about $20.
Employees got wise to the tactics on Feb. 24 and contacted police.
“Fortunately, the state liquor stores have excellent security cameras and well-trained staff who are on the lookout for theft and fraudulent behavior,” Cheetham said. “We work closely with investigators from the Liquor Commission’s Division of Enforcement investigators and solve a vast majority of these cases and bring them to prosecution.”
Cheetham said investigators see all kinds of tactics used to steal liquor, and it’s not uncommon for individuals to team up to organize their thefts.
“The younger man goes first, scans the area, then takes a bottle of Courvoisier off the shelf. The older male is close by waiting to go next. Once the younger male ensures the aisle is ‘clear,’ then the older male goes,” Londonderry Officer Keeley Bartolini says in the affidavit. “They walk past each other and appear to exchange words. Once the older male is in the aisle, he proceeds to conceal the Hennessy by concealing it in his pants pocket. At the same time, the younger male is seen nearby, pacing the area and being the lookout for the older male.”
Store employees followed the men to their vehicle and captured an image of its license plate. This information, combined with the use of Desouza’s credit card, was used to identify the two men. The vehicle was registered to Jensen’s girlfriend’s mom, who cooperated with police.
Police determined that Jensen and Desouza were coworkers at JMD Industries, a metal finishing facility in Hudson.
Hennessy is the state’s most popular product, and has been the go-to liquor for alleged bootleggers, according to a 2018 report by NHPR. Usually, bootleggers will make large cash purchases of the cognac and carry it across state lines to resell illegally at a higher price.
Last month, the Internal Revenue Service released a report concluding a four-year investigation into New Hampshire Liquor Commission policies around large volume cash sales, saying it found no evidence of wrongdoing by the commission. The IRS ruled that government entities are not required to report cash sales in excess of $10,000.