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How The LAPD Tracked Down Millions Worth of Nike Sneakers

How The LAPD Tracked Down Millions Worth of Nike Sneakers
Nike Stolen Goods

In an operation that spanned from the bustling streets of Los Angeles to the heart of Memphis, Tennessee, the LAPD uncovered a sophisticated theft ring responsible for the disappearance of millions of dollars worth of Nike sneakers. This story, unfolding like a plot from a Hollywood heist movie and reported on by the LA Times, involves insider collaboration, fake shipping labels, and a network of thieves exploiting gaps in the distribution system of one of the world's most recognizable sportswear brands.

The saga began to unravel in Memphis, at a Nike warehouse, where products destined for nationwide distribution became the target of an organized theft operation. The thieves, demonstrating a deep understanding of Nike’s distribution network, manipulated shipping labels to redirect shipments of valuable sneakers to various locations across Los Angeles. This elaborate scheme was a calculated operation that leveraged insider knowledge and corruption within the shipping and handling sector.

Theft within the supply chain has been on the rise. A report from 2023 stated there was a 63% increase in theft across the supply chain, with plenty of stories from the sneaker industry to back up this number. This rise includes a November 2023 incident in which a cargo train was looted for Nike products, a $7 million bust by the LAPD from a warehouse in Torrance, California, and $400,000 worth of sneakers, including the Panda Dunk, stolen from a Memphis train yard.

According to a detailed investigation led by LAPD's Commercial Crimes Division, more than $2 million of Nike products have been stolen since June 2023. The investigation revealed how a 37-year-old man from Tennessee named Roy Lee Harvey and others exploited vulnerabilities within Nike's shipping processes. By creating counterfeit shipping labels and colluding with employees at UPS and possibly within Nike, they could misroute shipments to their advantage.

The breakthrough came when Nike employees in Memphis stumbled upon cartons of shoes in a U.S. Postal Service truck, each marked with an original shipping label obscured by a UPS label. This discovery, followed by the interception of more mislabeled cartons, led Nike to alert the LAPD. The ensuing investigation pointed to a complex network involving UPS employees and a Nike employee from Memphis, suggesting a wide-reaching conspiracy to steal and resell rare and unreleased sneakers.

Roy Lee Harvey emerged as a central figure in the operation, with detectives tracing a large volume of communications between him and a Nike employee with access to unreleased shoes. Harvey's connection to a Hollywood apartment building and a company known as RHJ Global Kicks hinted at the sophistication and scale of the operation. Despite Harvey's low-profile criminal history, the evidence gathered painted a picture of a well-organized theft ring with significant implications for the sneaker market.

The culmination of the LAPD's investigation was a dramatic raid on a warehouse in Hawthorne, revealing a treasure trove of stolen Nike merchandise valued at approximately $5 million. The warehouse, associated with Project Blitz, a renowned sneaker resell business with high-profile clientele, contained stolen shoes, clothing, accessories, and samples of unreleased products.

While speculation rose regarding Project Blitz and its owner, Andre Ljustina, being involved in this, his name does not appear on the search warrant, and he currently faces no charges in this case.

As the dust settles on this high-stakes investigation, questions linger about the extent of the theft ring's network and the implications for security within the retail and distribution sectors. The arrest of Roy Lee Harvey and the recovery of millions in stolen goods marks a significant victory for law enforcement. Still, the investigation continues, with the LAPD and Nike seeking to close the loopholes these modern-day sneaker bandits exploit. Download the Sole Retriever mobile app for more updates on this case and the latest happenings in the sneaker and streetwear world.

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