Ex-Target worker nabbed in arson scam

June 17, 2009 3:13:31 PM PDT
A former employee of a Brooklyn Target store and his girlfriend were caught on surveillance video setting a small fire inside as a diversion to allow him to steal eight flat-screen televisions. The video shows the store filling up with smoke -- a fire intended to cover up a crime, authorities said.

"Very surprised and disappointed that a team member would do that to where they work or where they formally worked," said Rob Stermann of Target.

Everyone was on edge at the Gateway location on Wednesday after learning two of their own nearly pulled off an inside job and in the process put dozens of employees lives at risk, investigators said.

The game plan was simple, said Chief Fire Marshal Robert Byrnes.

"Make a fire so I can cause a distraction so I can get out of here with the goods," Byrnes explained.

What the suspects didn't count on was surveillance cameras that tracked their every move.

The ball was set in motion around 9:15 Thursday evening.

The video shows Jared Devonish, 26, Sneaking into the store and hiding behind a freezer unit.

He stays there for several hours.

The store closes at 11 and soon after you see his 27-year-old girlfriend, Nefatara Meyerdierks, slip him a bottle of water.

Around 1:30 in the morning he makes his move and starts eyeing merchandise. She brings him a flat bed and then he starts loading up his loot -- a total of 8 flat screen TVs worth 8000 dollars.

While is going on, 56 employees are clear across the store cleaning and re-stocking shelves.

Just before 2:00 a.m., he wheels the stolen property to rear exit door and sets a fire. Investigators said it was a distraction to allow him to get away.

"It creates panic, mayhem. People start fleeing the store. Store security is seeking out where the fire is, what the source of the problem is," Byrnes said.

The sprinklers go off as Devonish makes a run for it, but later that day officials arrested the pair who had already sold 4 TV's.

As for Devonish sneaking into the 120 thousand square foot store.

"We do have a paid detail in the store from 5 p.m. until closing. We will use them a little bit more," Stermann said.

The suspects were charged with arson, burglary, larceny and criminal possession of stolen propert.

According to investigators, Devonish, who has one prior arrest for weapons possession, had been fired from the Target three weeks earlier for not showing up to work.