Something didn’t smell right when nearly $70,000 worth of Chanel perfume went missing from a Macy’s in Manhasset last month — and police said surveillance video showed the man assigned to keep the merchandise from being taken was the person who stole it.
Nassau County police Major Case Bureau detectives arrested Juan Adriano Infante, 21, at 2:05 p.m. Monday at his home on 47th Avenue in Woodside, Queens, charging him with second-degree grand larceny.
Instead of protecting the merchandise from theft, Infante, employed at the Macy’s store on Northern Boulevard for about two years as a “loss prevention associate,” entered the stock room where the Chanel fragrance was in storage, disabled an alarm — and carried boxes worth $69,000 out of the store, police said Tuesday.
“It’s very, very ironic,” Nassau Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun said at a press briefing at police headquarters in Mineola.
Witnesses, who police wouldn’t identify, alerted store management to the thefts, which occurred five times between May 13 and May 15, according to police.
Infante, who did not enter a plea and was ordered held on $10,000 bail at his arraignment Tuesday in First District Court in Hempstead, told cops he was told to put the items in his car by the fragrance manager, according to court documents. He was represented by a Legal Aid Society attorney.
“I was asked by the fragrance manager to move boxes of fragrances from the cosmetics stock room,” Infante told cops, according to the documents. “I did this on three different days in May. I did lie about moving the boxes of fragrances from the cosmetics stock room and putting them in the fragrance bays while assisting another employee. I lied because I didn’t want to get the fragrance manager in trouble.”
Cops said that account was inacurate. But a woman who identified herself as Infante’s mother and wouldn’t give her name, said in a phone interview that she was hiring a lawyer because she doubted her son had stolen anything.
“Listen, I never see the perfume in the house,” she said. “I never see nothing in my house. ”
She said her son has a “clean record,” and she said the accusations were particularly jarring because of his job.
“My son don’t need to be stealing something from Macy’s, especially because he was a security guard undercover — that means he knows there’s cameras. He knows everything there.”
But police said evidence points to theft: Each time Infante removed the fragrances, he called the store’s alarm company to have a door alarm disengaged and when he was finished loading his car, he called to have the alarm turned back on.
And, police said, Infante overlooked one crucial security measure: the video surveillance system.
Once Macy’s called cops, detectives were able to identify Infante from surveillance footage, leading to his arrest, police said.
LeBrun said police would not release the video, but described it as showing Infante, who does not have a criminal record, carrying packages out of the store and placing them in his car.
Macy’s spokeswoman Elina Kazan said in an e-mail: “Macy’s is vigilant in protecting its assets and prosecuting those who participate in illegal activities. As this is a police matter, we cannot provide any further details or comment at this time.”
Police have not yet been able to recoup any of the approximatley 1,000 perfume packages, which also included some shower gels and moisturizers.
“We do not feel this was for personal use,” said LeBrun. “Historically, fragrances like this can get up to 50 cents on the dollar. So if it’s $69,000, just figure half of that would be some type of profit for him.”