A Land O’ Lakes man who stole chandeliers from The Home Depot via ticket-switching, returned them and pawned gift cards he received in return is now being charged for his not so-bright idea, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s office.
Nicholas Noel Andersen, 32, took the UPC codes from lower-cost items and stuck them on chandelier boxes at Home Depots in Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Hernando counties, according to deputies.
He would then ring himself out in self-service lanes by scanning the codes. Once he did that, he was able to leave the stores with receipts, said Detective John Suess with the sheriff’s economic crimes unit. He would then return, sometimes as little as five minutes later, with the authentic chandelier UPC code on the box and redeem the chandelier for store credit.
He did this 61 times from Sept. 1 to Nov. 31, 2011, according to Suess. The stolen chandeliers have a combined total value of $14,019, according to the sheriff’s office, with each individual chandelier being worth $150-$380.
Suess said Andersen redeemed chandeliers for Home Depot gift cards and then pawned off the cards for cash. He said Andersen’s family told him the cash supported a prescription pill addiction.
“Andersen was pawning an exorbitant number of Home Depot gift cards,” Suess said. This was noticed by a pawn shop detective, Suess said.
He said Andersen wasn’t talking about the scheme and didn’t know why Andersen focused on chandeliers. He pointed out that chandeliers have significant value and are small enough that one person can carry them.
Pasco deputies were contacted about the problem by The Home Depot, Suess said.
Andersen of 45005 Beauman Drive was already in police custody when he was arrested Monday on a warrant and charged with grand theft.
He remained in Land O’ Lakes Jail Wednesday in lieu of $30,000 bail.