Shelton resident charged with stealing watches

A third individual has been arrested for allegedly stealing wrist watches from the Victorinox/Swiss Army warehouse in Monroe.

The new suspect was a company employee but her alleged thefts were taking place separately from two men who recently were arrested for stealing about $1 million of watches from the company, police said.

Linda Thanassi, 51, of 8 Tahmore Place, Shelton, was charged Oct. 1 with first-degree larceny. Bond was $30,000.

Monroe Police Lt. Keith White said Thanassi, an executive assistant at the company, was shipping the stolen watches through the Swiss Army mail system to someone in Texas.

Thanassi allegedly sent about 20 packages containing watches that weighed a total of 120 pounds from August 2010 to October 2011. Police said each watch weighs about 1 pound with packaging, so it is presumed about 120 watches were involved. No dollar amount was available on the estimated value of the stolen watches.

Police became suspicious because of the excessive number of packages being sent in the employee's name through the company mailroom. "She was sending an unusual number of watches to Texas," White said.

The stolen watches were being shipped to the same Texas buyer who was buying the stolen watches from the two other suspects, although the two cases appear to have no other connection, according to White.

He said the buyer would resell the watches through an eBay account.

One of the two men charged earlier also was a Swiss Army employee.

The Monroe Police Department's investigation into theft at the Victorinox/Swiss Army facility now is closed, White said, but at least one other arrest is pending involving a Connecticut suspect. He said no arrests are expected in Texas in the case.

Earlier arrests

The police investigation into theft at Victorinox/Swiss Army began in late 2011 after a warehouse inventory found that a large quantity of timepieces was missing from the facility.

The investigation confirmed the loss came from employee theft, according to police. Products allegedly were being removed from the Victorinox property and sent to multiple locations in and out of state. Police said the total market value of the stolen watches is $1,076,000.

Another Swiss Army employee, Gilberto Nieves, 38, of 225 Edgewood St., Stratford, previously was charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny. Bond was $150,000 for Nieves, who was product repair manager at Victorinox/Swiss Army.

Mark Bancroft, 50, of 28 Auburn St., Stratford, also was charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny. Bancroft is suspected of purchasing stolen watches in bulk from Nieves on a regular basis and then reselling them. Bancroft did not work at Swiss Army.

Nieves, as product repair manager, reportedly had access to the new watches and the second-hand watches at the warehouse. Police said he devised a way to periodically remove a small number of watches from the property without being noticed by company security.