AUBURN — Three New York men were arrested Tuesday night and charged with using bogus identification to make off with goods from several Home Depot stores. 

Police said the trio used fake identification to secure Home Depot credit cards before going on shopping sprees in at least four Maine stores. 

Mickey Melija of the Bronx, New York. Androscoggin County Jail

Mickey Melija, 24, Jeremy Pinales, 22, and Gilbert Reyes, 21, all of the Bronx, New York, were charged with misuse of identification after they were nabbed at the Auburn store. 

Auburn police said the investigation involves departments from several jurisdictions. They also said that more serious charges are likely. 

Gilbert Reyes of the Bronx, New York. Androscoggin County Jail

On Tuesday, local police were alerted that the three men had targeted Home Depot stores in South Portland, Windham and Biddeford before heading to the Auburn store. 

When Auburn police went to the Home Depot on Mount Auburn Avenue, they found one of the suspects waiting in a car while the other two shopped inside the store. The three were arrested and police impounded the car, planning to search it once a warrant is obtained. 

Jeremy PInales of the Bronx, New York. Androscoggin County Jail

“We know there’s quite a lot of merchandise in there,” said Auburn deputy police Chief Tim Cougle. 

While the investigation was ongoing, police declined to speculate how much merchandise was taken during the spree, saying only that it was likely in the thousands of dollars. 

The suspects were taken to the Androscoggin County Jail. Each posted bail later in the week and was released. 

The scam has been around for a while. In October, Peter Garces, 23, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay more than $15,000 in restitution. 

In that case, prosecutors said Garces had opened accounts with more than half a dozen fake driver’s licenses to buy more than $15,500 worth of items from Home Depot stores in Biddeford, South Portland and Windham. He later sold his purchases in New York, court records show. 

Auburn police made that arrest, as well, nabbing Garces after he tore off his shirt and fled down one of the Home Depot aisles. An officer ultimately tackled Garces near the front of the store and arrested him. 

Garces later told police he used fake IDs to open charge accounts at the Home Depot stores where he bought expensive items and took them back to New York to sell at half price. 

Credit card fraud is a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. 

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