National Shoplifting Ring Charged In $20 Million Thefts

Tijuana vendors put in special orders for designer merchandise, dispatching teams of shoplifters to malls around the U.S. to steal more than $20 million in loot that could be resold at lower prices in Mexico, charges an indictment in San Diego federal court.

For the past decade, Tijuana vendors put in special orders for designer merchandise, dispatching teams of shoplifters to malls around the U.S. to steal more than $20 million in loot that could be resold at lower prices in Mexico, charges an indictment in San Diego federal court, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. The highly organized shoplifting ring targeted malls around San Diego County and as far away as Washington, Illinois, Oregon and Maryland, prosecutors said. They used sophisticated techniques to lift everything from Louis Vuitton shoes to Victoria’s Secret lingerie to Abercrombie & Fitch clothing.

When necessary, the suspected thieves used violence — knocking down an infant in a stroller or breaking a loss prevention officer’s arm — the U.S. Attorney’s office said. On Wednesday, more than 250 law enforcement officers arrested at least 14 people. A San Diego federal grand jury indicted 22 people in the scheme. Agents seized $30,000 in cash as well as about a dozen trash bags bursting with new clothing with tags and security devices still attached. Piles of new Louis Vuitton shoes, as well as jewelry and perfume, were also confiscated. The shoplifting crews were organized by team leaders, who would scout stores and choreograph the heists using cellphones and hand signals, prosecutors said. “Blockers” would distract store employees or shield the movements of the “mules,” who would use metallic-lined “booster” bags to hide the merchandise and defeat store security sensors.

from https://thecrimereport.org