Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Albuquerque NM, Hot Art Handler Busted

$80,000 of stolen loot found in store

Owner arrested, more arrests could be coming

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Pawn shops and flea markets have reputations for selling stolen goods, but an antique shop? Deputies raided one Tuesday, and they said the shelves were filled stolen stuff from people's homes, including art work.

Investigators said the owner knew his merchandise was stolen and now he is in jail.

“We are estimating over $80,000 worth of property,” Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Lt. Adan Mendoza said.

Investigators pulled stolen items out of the antique store in Santa Fe; same with the thrift store two doors down.

“During the search we discovered several items to include electronics, artwork, jewelry, and some of those items were tied to several burglaries,” said Mendoza.

Four bronze statues found inside are worth $64,000 alone.

Investigators with a newly formed burglary task force had been watching the stores for weeks, and saw some well-known thieves peddling loot inside.

Even though they moved in as quick as they could, Lt. Mendoza said, “I think there is a lot of property that has gone in and out of that business that has been sold or transported to other locations that we may never track down.”

The owner of the two stores, Clarence Catanach, 62, is in jail tonight for taking in and reselling the stolen items.

Investigators said it will take them some time to sort though the stuff. They may even have a viewing for burglary victims to see if any of the items are theirs.

Catanach also owns the shopping center where the businesses were located. They are also investigating to see if he is misusing his business permit.

Investigators expect to make more arrests once they nail down which items are linked to which burglaries.

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