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Queens Duo Charged in East Hampton Balenciaga Thefts

Tue, 11/14/2023 - 12:07
Carissa Katz

East Hampton Village police nabbed a man and a woman from Queens on Friday who they say match the description of shoplifters who hit the Balenciaga store twice this year, once on July 1 and again on Sept. 17.

A spokesperson for Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said by email on Tuesday that there was "no indication" that the pair are connected to the organized gang from Newark, N.J., who carried out a dramatic daytime handbag heist at the shop in March 2022, leading police on a high-speed chase before being apprehended in Manorville after their getaway car blew a tire on the Long Island Expressway. Four of those five thieves are now serving time, while one remains at large.

"It is not believed that this at-large suspect was involved in the more recent larceny," the D.A.'s spokesperson said.

Mr. Tierney told The Star during a February 2023 meet-and-greet in Amagansett that organized retail theft was on the rise on the East End. His office said he remains "adamant that retail theft will not be tolerated in Suffolk County, and we will continue to prosecute these cases vigorously."

According to village police, the two people arrested Friday showed up at the Newtown Lane store shortly before 3 p.m., but left without incident. An employee recognized them, however, and called 911. Officers found the pair down the street, in front of the Tenet store, and arrested them.

The man, Uriel Dogel Rodriguez Guzman of Flushing, 30, was charged with two counts of third-degree grand larceny. The woman, Lilliana Varela Garcia of Corona, 41, was similarly charged with one count. Justice Steven Tekulsky arraigned both on Saturday in East Hampton Town Justice Court.

Mr. Guzman was released on his own recognizance without bail to await a future court date, but Ms. Garcia was discovered to have an active warrant out for her arrest, from the Westminster County Court in Maryland. She was remanded to the custody of the County Sheriff's Office, which will turn her over to the authorities in Maryland.

Friday's incident marks at least the fourth time shoplifters have had Balenciaga in their sights. In August this year, a New York City man was charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property after he was seen wearing a hat that had gone missing from the store not long before.

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