Police in New Haven made a surprise discovery while busting an alleged drug dealing operation: In addition to seizing drugs and money, investigators uncovered a house full of items believed to be stolen and said the person renting it is a convicted murder.
From gas-powered lawn equipment and power tools to flat-screen televisions and dozens of bicycles, most of the items New Haven investigators dragged out of a home on Lamberton Street Wedneday did not belong to the resident who lives there, according to police.
"We’re guessing it’s tens of thousands of dollars' worth of suspected stolen merchandise," said New Haven police spokesman Officer David Hartman.
Police discovered the stolen merchandise while busting a major drug operation linked to Willie "Chill" Harris Jr., 43, who was renting the property. Police said Harris previously served 14 years in prison for a 1993 murder conviction.
Investigators confiscated $22,906 cash and "100 grams of powder cocaine and crack cocaine in the house," according to Hartman.
Officers said the home had become a stockpile of stolen items such as dog food, detergent and about a hundred cases of beer.
"As was described by one of the officers earlier, it’s kind of like a proverbial Wal-Mart," Hartman said.
Police said Harris had been keeping all the items under close watch with security cameras in both the front and rear of the home. They said he even had a working police scanner, which was already turned on when officers raided the property.
"We’re surprised the scanner was actually set to our frequency 3, which is for this neighborhood," said Hartman.
Several truckloads of stolen goods were taken to the police department's property room, where they will stay while police work to match their serial numbers with those of items reported missing.
Harris remains in custody and has been charged with possession of narcotics with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school, possession of a controlled substance and operating a drug factory. It's not clear if he has an attorney.