WDBJ 7 is learning new details about seven Roanoke businesses accused of selling stolen merchandise.

According to search warrants obtained by WDBJ 7, some of the owners and employees bought the items from a confidential informant.

Those items include cartons of cigarettes, energy drinks, bedroom and bathroom decor, cell phones, televisions, tablets and even canned salmon.

WDBJ 7’s cameras were rolling last Thursday when dozens of investigators raided the businesses and confiscated cash registers, receipts and safes.

The search warrants also state some people paid the confidential informant with Lortab pills for stolen merchandise.

Majority of the businesses are accused of buying stolen cigarettes during the year-long investigation.


Five Roanoke store owners and employees are facing felony charges as part of a year-long investigation that involves selling stolen goods.

Federal, state and local law enforcement officers hit seven Roanoke stores believed to have been buying stolen goods and reselling them. Officers went to the stores around 10 a.m. on Thursday.

It wasn't the best business day for stores like the Pure Gas Station on the corner of 11th Street and Orange Avenue as teams of investigators spent the day inside, instead of customers.

"The businesses themselves were contributing to part of the problem themselves in those communities,” said Roanoke City Police Lieutenant Mac Babb.

Babb said there’s a serious shoplifting problem not only in Roanoke, but the entire region as well.

"A lot of shoplifting was occurring,” he said. “The people engaged in the activity were able to go to various convenience stores in the Valley and sell these stolen property directly into the store."

Those items then made their way onto store shelves, according to Babb.

"High end electronics, laptops, phones, television sets, tablets, things of that nature,” he said. “Cigarettes, food items that store clerks would restock onto the shelves."

Thursday's raid of seven businesses caused quite a stir within certain areas of the city.

"Where else can you go in Roanoke that you see all these polices at one time?” asked Robert Gravely. “And every store is locked down at one time."

Gravely lives near Orange Avenue and watched as officers executed the search warrants. He told WDBJ 7 he has always thought certain neighborhoods have been targeted by police.

"I'm talking about the whole black community,” he said when asked to specify which neighborhoods.

But Babb said that's not true.

Investigators started their undercover investigation about a year ago and said this bust is only helping the city of Roanoke clean up crimes that have gone on for far too long.

"People became well aware that they could not only steal from reputable businesses in the Valley,” he said. “But they also had quick avenues to convert the property into cash or other items."

Investigators believe shoplifters were using the cash to support drug habits.

WDBJ 7 tried speaking with the owners of all the stores, but no one wanted to go on camera and make a comment.

Investigators said the entire probe started after they received complaints from customers and informants.