$60 Million Shoplifting Ring Busted In Florida

Holy crap! A “multiagency” investigation that started with a single shoplifting incident has lead to the arrest of an 18 person crime ring in Florida, says The Ledger.

The group was responsible for anywhere from $60-$100 million in pilfered goods.

The investigation started with two shoplifters at a Publix supermarket on Shepherd Road in Lakeland on June 26, Judd said at a news conference in Lakeland on Thursday afternoon.

Rita Maddox and Elisha Cordle of Dover stole nearly $4,500 worth of Oil of Olay products that day, placing them into special bags designed to conceal stolen goods, Judd said.

To law enforcement it seemed like a regular shoplifting incident and the two were charged with grand theft.

But after speaking with confidential sources, Judd said, a sheriff’s detective uncovered something more – the single largest organized crime ring of its kind in Polk County Sheriff’s Office history.

The ring consisted of teams of shoplifters (some of them violent offenders and meth addicts) who would steal expensive health and beauty items from grocery stores like Publix, Walmart and Target. The items were then passed along to people without criminal records who would then sell the items at flea markets and on eBay.

The (below) video of a press conference with Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd shows some of the items the group is accused of stealing, as well as surveillance footage of the thefts taking place. Sheriff Judd says they were so smooth and practiced that in a store supervisor walks right next to them as they’re stealing.

Here’s the best part—the crime-ring had good customer service:

Theresa Parrish, an eBay member since March 2002, sold some of the items out of her eBay store, Lola’s Discount Health and Beauty, officers said.

Parrish explained the business in her seller’s profile: “We buy overstock, discontinued and shelf pull items by the case or pallet.

“Some things we almost always stock on a regular basis and other items we only get on a one-time basis … check back regularly as there is always something new up for auction here!”

More than 10,000 positive feedback points were left for Parrish from happy eBay members who purchased items such as razor blades, moisturizer and even bras. Buyers left praise for the quality of the products and speed of delivery.


Multimillion-dollar Theft Ring is Broken [The Ledger] (Thanks, Meagan!)

Comments

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  1. soulman901 says:

    WOW!!!

  2. brew400 says:

    i love good customer service

  3. missbheave (is not convinced) says:

    special bags designed to conceal stolen goods“? like…a backpack?

    Who knew you could get rich from eye regenerist dermapods?

  4. enascar88 says:

    Incredible!!!!

  5. semanticantics says:

    Shopping bags heavily lined with metallic and / or masking tape can interfere with sensors. There was a shop lifting ring broken up here in MN when the Mall of America was still new. They showed the bags on the air. Brilliant.

  6. MickeyMoo says:

    @disgruntled panda:

    I think they mean false bottom bags with a secret compartment

  7. @disgruntled panda: They are bags that are lined to block RFID and other like signals to not set off alarms. They also have false like bottoms to make them look empty if checked by eye.

  8. unsunder says:

    The eBay store is still up.

  9. mac-phisto says:

    you mean checking receipts never stopped these crimanls?!? OMG!

  10. missbheave (is not convinced) says:

    @MickeyMoo: @GitEmSteveDave: @semanticantics: wow, again, who knew. I was just thinking of my local duane reade. there are never enough staff around to help you, let alone detect shoplifters, so these kinds of measures probably wouldn’t be necessary.

  11. scoosdad says:

    “Buyers left praise for the quality of the products and speed of delivery.”

    And if we don’t have it, we can get it!

  12. smitty1123 says:

    Wait, I thought stealing from big stores was an innocent victimless crime, since, ya know, they are huge, screw over “mom and pop” stores and budget for shoplifting anyway? At least that’s what I’ve read in comments…

  13. phrygian says:

    @disgruntled panda: My friend is a store manager, she said they caught people in their store before Christmas who had large shopping bags (from places like Macy’s) that were lined with multiple layers of aluminum foil. If a clerk hadn’t seen the people stealing, the bags would have kept the store’s sensors from going off.

  14. ekthesy says:

    Holy crap indeed. That averages out to (at minimum) $330K in stolen merch per person. I would have thought that stealing that amount of stuff from grocery stores was nearly impossible.

  15. DeeJayQueue says:

    I wonder if they’ll go after the people who bought from them for receiving stolen goods? Or does that only count over a certain dollar value?

  16. What? You pooped in the refrigerator? And you stole $60 million dollars worth of merchandise from a supermarket? How’d you do that? Heck, I’m not even mad; that’s amazing. How ’bout we get you in your p.j.’s and we hit the hay.

  17. Parting says:

    Great customer service :) Maybe I should try the store on eBay :)

  18. Imaginary_Friend says:

    Ok, is this $60-$100 million using MPAA math or normal people’s math? Cause that’s ridiculous. Who needs that much body butter?

    Glad they got caught though. I’m sure the stores will pass on those savings to their non-thieving customers. Or not.

  19. Szin says:

    @unsunder: I wonder if they’ll have a Going Out Of Business sale soon.

  20. midwestkel says:

    That person is selling drugs to. If you look at thier feedback from the last 90 as a buyer all they bought was Asprin, hundereds of bottles, and some stuff for thier Honda Civic.

  21. alice_bunnie says:

    @Imaginary_Friend:

    I was going to say about the same thing. Maybe they value them like marijuana and other illegal drugs? 60-100 Million I just don’t believe, unless they’ve been in business for decades.

  22. mac-phisto says:

    @DeeJayQueue: i think it only counts if there’s a reasonable assumption that you knew the items were stolen. the fact that they were advertised as discount lots would probably dissuade law enforcement from pursuing charges against anyone who bought the items.

  23. evslin says:

    A++++ would do business with again

  24. dgcaste says:

    The store seems to be down, I can’t search for it.

  25. drjayphd says:

    @dgcaste: All I’m getting is a store offering a delightful assortment of Playtex bras. Thank goodness it fits.

  26. SacraBos says:

    @scoosdad: Reminds me “Five-Finger Furniture Rental – The World is our Warehouse!”

  27. lincolnparadox says:

    @discounteggroll: I love that movie!

    Razorblades are such a racket. My only wish is that they were stealing from warehouses or wholesale distributors. Kudos to the police for unraveling this from a single shoplifting nab, but I don’t know if the people at the top will be charged with anything that sticks. The form they made their suppliers sign that states “None of these items are stolen” would make it seem like they were trying to run a legitimate business. Plus, jeez, they’ve made $100 million. You could clone Johnny Cochrane and have him defend you for that kind of money.

  28. tz says:

    Some libertarian defenders of WalMart say it is all just the free market and free trade. Then I ask if the violation of contracts (labor and government stealing private land for factories), pollution, and various other things aren’t really theft, as long as it occurs in diluted forms in another country. And then from 1936 there’s the book ‘The professional thief’ so I’m really not surprised at the article.

    This story does bring it home. Will the free market defenders of Wal-Mart now also defend the high service, high quality, low price eBay entrepreneur?

  29. P41 says:

    Retailer theory A: a few people steal a lot of stuff. Catch them and you’ll solve your shrinkage problems.

    Retailer theory B: all the customers are thieves, this shows you how much they’re each hauling out.

    So guess which one we’re gonna see more of.

    Oh hey, at least they weren’t putting Oil of Olay filled with tiles back in their places.

  30. sketchy says:

    This begs the question – will the AG press charges against all of the ebay buyers who purchased stolen goods? Thanks to ebay for keeping records of all these transactions.

    Interstate commerce involving the proceeds of crime could have Federal and Patriot Act implications as well, if I am not mistaken. Anyone knowledgeable have a thought on that?

  31. darkclawsofchaos says:

    @sketchy: doubt it,as mac-phisto said, you are only responsible if they had reason to believe you knew

  32. KarmaChameleon says:

    Too bad Supermarket Sweep got cancelled, these two would make out like, uh, bandits.

  33. synergy says:

    I’ve never understood why anyone would want to buy something like razors or moisturizer on the internet.

  34. trunk666 says:

    i need some new fusion blades….off to ebay…

  35. Mr. Gunn says:

    evslin: beat me to it