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Fairfax County police have arrested a United Parcel Service worker in Springfield and charged him with embezzlement of more than 60 Apple electronic products from unopened shipping packages at the UPS facility where he worked.

Police said Tuesday that Stephen A. Owens, 31, of Dumfries was a sorter at the UPS facility at 8200 Alban Road in Springfield. Police alleged that Owens was taking the unopened Apple products—including Macbooks, iPhones, iPods and iPads--stuffing them into his pants or otherwise concealing them and then working with others to sell them at bargain prices.

Fairfax County Police detectives said they began receiving complaints from security at the UPS facility in November 2012, just before the holidays.

UPS security staff reported that large quantities of Apple products were disappearing from the facility. Thefts had been reportedly taking place in batches since September 2012 that were being shipped directly from Apple to new customers. UPS security staff became suspicious when customers started calling to inquire or complain that they had not received their products, according to police.

In a release, Fairfax County police said detectives from the West Springfield district station worked with UPS security, and after six months of scrutiny, court orders, and a six-month investigation, uncovered a “sophisticated scam that involved primarily online buyers and sellers across the D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia region.”

Susan Rosenberg, a spokesperson for United Parcel Service said Tuesday that incidents such as this one are not unheard of at UPS facilities.

“They have happened before, but not with any frequency,” she said.

Rosenberg said UPS has “layered security measures” in place for just such occurrences.

“We perform criminal background checks on all our employees and have security screenings at our facilities,” she said. “In addition, we train our managers to be aware of employee behavior and if need be, we call law enforcement and bring them in if a situation warrants it.”

Police remind consumers--whether online or in person--to make sure they are not purchasing items that may have been stolen. Knowingly purchasing stolen items is a violation of Virginia law and is treated accordingly, as larceny.

gmacdonald@fairfaxtimes.com