A San Francisco Boba Tea Shop Was a Front for Selling Stolen Goods, Police Say

The husband of the tea shop's owner is facing a dozen charges.

Who doesn't love a good boba tea? But while you're busy using the straw to seek out every last tapioca pearl at the bottom of your drink, you might be too distracted to notice if, in the case of one San Francisco boba tea shop, you're also sitting in a front for a car burglary operation.

Quoc Le, the husband of the owner of the Quickly bubble tea cafe on Larkin Street in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood, was arrested on Monday and is set to face 12 different charges including eight counts of felony possession of stolen property and four counts as a misdemeanor, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The bubble tea shop was targeted as part of a significantly larger investigation — Operation Auto Pilot — looking into a rash of smash-and-grab car thefts across the city, the paper reported, and that has recovered more than 1,000 stolen items including laptops, phones, cameras and other devices with a total value of over $100,000. Le is reportedly being accused of serving as a front for the operation, handling the sales of the stolen items before shipping them off to countries.

Boba tea on a shop counter
Swanya Charoonwatana / Getty Images

"Car break-ins have been a longstanding problem in San Francisco for at least a decade; I created Operation Auto Pilot to take aggressive action against fencing networks responsible for so much property crime," San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was quoted as stating. "We hope that this sends a strong message to deter anyone considering breaking into a car or buying stolen goods: we are watching and you will be held accountable."

Investigators were reportedly able to hone in on the bubble tea shop when tracking devices on stolen items were sending pings from a vacant location next door. From there, further surveillance of the shop saw people entering with items such as a laptop and leaving with neither the same device nor a boba tea, according to the Chronicle.

One potential takeaway: If you're moving stolen goods through a boba tea shop, at least cover your tracks by buying a boba tea.

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