A Columbia man was arrested Thursday after the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said it found $500,000 worth of stolen merchandise piled “floor to ceiling” inside his suburban Columbia-area home.
The sheriff’s department charged Yong Li Dong, 54, Thursday with receiving stolen goods, valued at $10,000 or more.
On Thursday, deputies assisting the Columbia Police Department executed a search warrant on Dong’s home, located on the 200 block of Indigo Springs Drive, in reference to the theft of medical equipment from a local hospital, according to the sheriff’s department.
Once inside home, the sheriff’s department said investigators discovered hundreds of items believed to be stolen, “piled floor-to-ceiling,” many with security tags. After returning with a second search warrant, the sheriff’s department said investigators worked through the night and into Friday sorting through items they found in each room of the house.
A video released by the sheriff’s department showed investigators sorting through stacks of new power tools, kitchen equipment, flat screen televisions, luggage, bicycles, generators and computer monitors. The Richland County Sheriff’s Department said it estimates the merchandise is valued around $500,000.
Many of the items were “consistent” with shoplifting cases in the area, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. Loss prevention staff from Lowe’s, Walmart, Home Depot, Target and others were on scene to collect the items.
The National Retail Federation, a trade association representing retail businesses, estimated that in 2021 stores lost an estimated $94.5 billion in so-called “inventory shrink.” This number, a nearly $4 billion increase in total value over 2020, was increasingly driven by theft, according to the group. In a report, Mark Mathews, a vice president for the association, blamed “highly sophisticated criminal rings,” for the increase in dollar value of thefts.
How Dong obtained the stolen merchandise and why he had it remains under investigation, according to the sheriff department’s statement.
Dong did not appear to be the homeowner, according to property records.
Dong has been incarcerated at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Richland County with a bond of $10,000. A first appearance in court is set for April 28.