Member of organized retail theft ring sentenced to prison time

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A member of an organized retail theft ring that stole tens of thousands of dollars in products from various retailers across Erie County was sentenced to prison time, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.

Rico Small, 45, participated in criminal activity by overseeing a group of people, who stole items from stores across the county in exchange for financial compensation. Small and others would then sell the stolen merchandise for profit, which in total was valued around $70,000. He was sentenced to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison.

The thefts took place between October 2022 and September 2023.

He pleaded guilty to one count of enterprise corruption on Jan. 31, the first person to be charged and convicted of that crime in the county. County leaders have previously said they have been trying to crack down on retail theft in the county.

“Theft is financial devastating for retailers, especially local small business owners. In addition to the negative economic impact for businesses and our community, I am deeply concerned about the serious threat that these thieves pose to the safety of store employees and customers,” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said in a release. “Anyone who engages in organized retail crime will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

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Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.

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