Weekend arrest leads Tulsa Police to a video tape theft operation

Wednesday, October 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa Police broke a videotape theft ring that reaches into several cities in four states. A simple larceny arrest in Tulsa over the weekend unraveled the entire network.

News on Six crime reporter Lori Fullbright says officers arrested a man and a woman this weekend for stealing videotapes from Blockbuster. They admitted that they'd stolen thousands of tapes in several states, selling them all to a guy named Andy in Tulsa for five bucks apiece. The thieves took hundreds of videotapes; they preferred new releases and box office blockbusters. Officers boxed up and sacked up more than 200 stolen videotapes as evidence, worth more than $10,000.

They say Nicholas Good and Katrina Coddington and four others had come to Tulsa from Houston with no other mission than to steal. Tulsa Police Detective Wes Smith, "Would go in mid-afternoon and hit the video stores. They liked Blockbuster, but would just go from store to store to store, in and out, real quick, real clean." Detectives say the suspects admitted stealing tapes in Oklahoma City, Wichita, Dallas, Chicago, Kansas City and Tulsa and they were good at it, telling police they made $20-30,000 in the past couple of months. They were selling the tapes to a man named Andy who was staying at Tulsa's Econo Lodge. He paid their expenses and then paid them four or five dollars for every tape.

Officers got search warrants and found a bonanza of evidence. Wes Smith: "We found air freight receipts that showed he shipped $100,000 worth last week alone, back to Texas." Officers arrested three more people from the hotel rooms, including Andy, who is actually Ahmad Abidlatif. Police say he's the ringleader of the group, and never kept his people in one town more than four days at a time. In fact, they were just one day away from leaving Tulsa when the cops found them.

And, we've learned, they were in Tulsa doing the same thing back in August. Officers aren't sure what Andy was doing with the stolen tapes, they've heard he owns a string of video rental stores in Texas but they're still checking that out. The DA is looking at what charges can be filed that are more serious than just grand larceny.