Janesville man charged in Home Depot shoplifting scheme
JANESVILLE, Wis. — A massive investigation that spanned more than a year has resulted in the arrest of 30-year-old Tyler Groeller of Janesville.
Police believe Groeller was the mastermind behind a scheme to shoplift $20,000 in merchandise from Home Depot stores in 11 different cities in Wisconsin over the course of a year. Groeller allegedly recruited 35 known heroin users to shoplift the merchandise for him.
Police said once the merchandise was stolen, the shoplifter would return the item to Home Depot. Because they did not have a receipt for the item the store issued them gift cards.
Janesville police were first contacted by internal security at Home Depot in October 2013. Home Depot security discovered that $20,000 in gift cards had been used by a Janesville landlord. They tracked those gift cards and discovered the cards had been issued to the 35 individuals alleged to be involved in the shoplifting.
Janesville police began investigating the 35 individuals, most of whom were known by the Street Crimes Unit as heroin users. When they interviewed those individuals they were told Groeller was coordinating the thefts.
While police began investigating Groeller’s role in the scheme, separately he was being investigated for trafficking heroin by Janesville police. On Nov. 1 he was observed delivering heroin to a police informant.
According to a criminal complaint, after being arrested and read his Miranda Rights, which police say he waived, Groeller told investigators that he had been stealing for approximately 16 years. He went on to tell investigators that he used to work for a company associated with Home Depot and said, “I know where every camera is, I know what every worker is capable of, and that’s the real problem of the store.”
He went on to say that Home Depot stores were, “designed to be victimized” and “they stand no chance against me.”
The criminal complaint also details Groeller’s interactions with a Janesville landlord.
Groeller told investigators that Janesville landlord, who he said owns, “Half of the 4th Ward” bought the Home Depot gift cards from him for 50 cents on the dollar.
Jennifer Reed, a Janesville police officer with the Street Crime Unit, told News 3 they conducted surveillance on Groeller before his arrest.
“We began observing Groeller from different locations throughout the city, which also included with that particular landlord. We then observed that landlord bring Home Depot merchandise into some of his properties, which we verified he owned,” Reed said.
That landlord, who News 3 is not identifying at this time because he has not been charged with a crime, is going to be meeting with Janesville police investigators next week.
Groeller will be back in court Dec. 16 at 8:30 a.m. for a preliminary hearing.