San Francisco boba shop served as front for global car burglary ring, DA Boudin reveals

  • A Quickly Boba Tea Cafe in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood served as a storage site for an international fencing ring, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
  • Around 1,000 stolen electronics — including laptops, phones and tablets — were discovered in the shop on Larkin Street.
  • The discovery was part of a larger investigation called Operation Auto Pilot, which has been going on for over a year and has so far uncovered sales in Asia and Europe.
  • Authorities found shipping records to territories and countries such as Hong Kong and Vietnam at the Quickly shop.
  • Le has been charged with eight felony counts and four misdemeanor counts of possession of stolen property.
  • His wife, who owns the Quickly franchise, was not charged.

A Quickly boba shop in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood served as a storage site for an international fencing ring, District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced on Tuesday.

Some 1,000 stolen electronic devices were recovered from the shop on Larkin Street. Quoc Le, 41, was arrested and faces at least a dozen felony and misdemeanor charges of possession of stolen property.

His wife, who owns the Taiwanese-based franchise, was not charged.

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Boudin’s office said the discovery was part of a larger investigation called Operation Auto Pilot, which tracks items stolen from “bait cars” placed in “strategic locations.” The operation has been going on for over a year, uncovering theft and sales networks that extended as far as Asia and Europe.

“The goal of this operation was to map out the flow of stolen goods in San Francisco and beyond, to identify the networks that are moving millions and millions of dollars of stolen goods from cars in San Francisco around the country and the world,” Boudin said.

The district attorney cited auto burglaries as one of the city’s top crimes for at least a decade. He said its “devastating impact” not only affects residents but the tourism industry at large.

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The Quickly bust, dubbed as Operation Bulldog, discovered 130 boxes of electronics and shipping records to territories and countries like Hong Kong and Vietnam. Boudin said there are other “numerous locations” under surveillance that may be involved in fencing rings.

Some Yelp reviews had described the Quickly shop as “shady” years before the bust, according to one report.

Authorities managed to track Le after he took possession of a laptop from a bait car in a parking lot. He has been charged with eight felony counts and four misdemeanor counts of possession of stolen property.

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Boudin’s office worked with the American Car Rental Association, Department of Homeland Security and SF SAFE in its latest investigation. The recovered items, which include laptops, phones and tablets, are expected to be returned to their owners.

The office also hopes to create a website where people can browse and possibly retrieve stolen items. For now, those with missing valuables can fill out a form with one’s information, which will then be cross-referenced with recovered properties.

 

Featured Image via San Francisco District Attorney’s Office

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