FAIRFIELD, NJ – A Clifton man who bought an $1800 drone from the store returned the box, full of bricks for a refund. Eventually, when the store resold the sealed box, the new buyer was not happy. The Fairfield Police Department announces the arrest of Edward Merlano (33) of Clifton, N.J. for 3rd degree receiving stolen property on February 10, 2021. The circumstances that gave rise to the arrest are as follows:
It is alleged that on July 29, 2020, Merlano purchased a DJI Mavic II drone from Unique Photo located on Route 46 West for approximately $1800. The very next day, it is alleged that Merlano went back to the store and returned the item for a refund. The box was shrink-wrapped in the same manner as when it was purchased so the store accepted the package and refunded Merlano’s payment thinking that box was never opened, and the drone was inside.
In January 2021, this same package was resold to another customer. When that customer eventually opened the package, it was found to contain bricks and paper towels and no drone. This customer alerted Unique Photo who then contacted the Fairfield police.
An investigation by Detective David Lagan revealed that during the exact time that the stolen drone was allegedly on the shelf at Unique Photo, it had been activated so that it could fly. Further investigation revealed that Merlano was operating a business called Soios N Osiso Aerial Data and Drone Solutions, a company that would do drone filming for money.
Undercover Fairfield detectives then contacted Merlano and ultimately arranged for him to come to a business in Fairfield under the pretense of filming a property from the air using a drone.
On February 10, 2021, he arrived at the business and met with these detectives. He was found to be in possession of the same drone that he had originally purchased based upon the serial number. Merlano was placed under arrest and charged with receiving stolen property. He was released on his own recognizance pending a hearing in the Superior Court in Newark on March 10, 2021.