$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!)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.