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Organized Retail Crime Monthly News Recap: April 2024

Organized retail crime remains a serious problem for retailers across the country and around the world. Every day, there are countless stories about criminal enterprises victimizing stores, threatening the safety of customers and employees, and the very fabric of the retail industry. To give you a better feel for the vast impact of the problem, we have provided a glimpse into just a few of the incidents that took place in the month of April.

Homeland Security Investigations Launches Website
Homeland Security Investigations, the principal investigative agency within the Department of Homeland Security, has launched—a standalone website designed to highlight its mission to shield the United States from global threats. From the local and international law enforcement agencies that partner with HSI to combat crime to the nongovernmental organizations who work to help victims of crime, will serve to educate and inform its full spectrum of stakeholders about its organization, mission and capabilities with greater clarity. To learn more about HSI visit

State’s Crackdown on ORC Leads to Nearly 500 Arrests, Recovery of 160,000 Stolen Goods in Just 3 Months
State law enforcement officials continue to disrupt organized retail crime in California. Since January, the state’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force has made 474 arrests and recovered more than 160,000 stolen goods valued at nearly $4.2 million. Since the inception of this task force in 2019, the CHP has been involved in nearly 2,500 investigations, leading to the arrest of more than 2,500 suspects and the recovery of over 770,000 stolen goods valued at $42.3 million.

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Man Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for ORC Scheme Spanning 23 States
A Santa Monica, California man was sentenced in Seattle to five years in prison for an organized retail theft scheme that caused more than $664,000 in damage. According to records in the case, the suspect led a group that traveled the U.S., stopping at home improvement stores and renting two types of expensive construction equipment valued between $1,500 and $2,000 each. Using more than 150 fake IDs and dozens of fake telephone numbers to trick the stores into renting him the equipment, he signed an agreement promising to return the machine on a specific date or pay a mounting fine. The suspect and others transported stolen goods in rental vans and then sold the equipment on online marketplaces for about $700 per machine. In all, the crew stole more than 480 pieces of equipment from 190 home improvement stores in 23 states.

Police Bust ‘Major’ ORC Ring Targeting Lululemon Stores
In a significant crackdown on organized retail crime, Bellevue police have arrested members of a theft crew accused of stealing more than $500,000 worth of luxury apparel and activewear from Lululemon and other retailers across Western Washington and Northwest Oregon. Investigators revealed that at least 42 stores were targeted by the crew. In a coordinated effort with loss prevention officers from Lululemon, police identified three suspects. When the suspects were arrested, detectives found clothing worn during the thefts, one of the cars used, and three assault-style rifles.

4 Charged in Theft of $300,000 Worth of Legos from California Stores
Four Californians have been arrested and charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Legos from stores, according to authorities. The three men and one woman from the Los Angeles area were all charged with organized retail theft, grand theft and conspiracy to commit a crime. The group is accused of stealing the goods from retailers throughout Southern California, including Target, Home Depot and Lowe’s, stealing from retailers and delivering stolen Legos to separate “fences.” The estimated loss to retailers stemming from the alleged scheme is around $300,000.

Beer Heist Ring Stole Corona and Modelo Worth Hundreds of Thousands
Eight men allegedly operated a beer heist ring that swiped cases of Corona and Modelo Especial valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars from distribution centers and rail cars in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Between July 2022 and March 2024, the men allegedly carried out dozens of heists, waiting until night to cut holes in the fences of distribution facilities or to snip the locks off rail cars to gain access to pallets of beer. They then allegedly used a moving truck to transport the stolen beer to the Bronx, where it was inspected and then sold.

Home Depot LP Officer Among 3 Arrested in Massive Retail Theft Ring
A Home Depot loss prevention officer is among three suspects who’ve been arrested in a massive retail theft ring in Miami-Dade. Police have announced the arrests after a months-long investigation into a group accused of stealing items at Home Depot stores before they allegedly re-sold the merchandise. Police said the employee would conceal merchandise in boxes intended for other items like vanities or garbage cans, which would allow another suspect to leave the stores without paying. The items were then sold to the third suspect, who would resell them online at places like Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp for prices well below retail value. When police executed search warrants, they found around 1,240 items valued at over $260,000.

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California Duo Arrested in Texas for Alleged Gift Card Draining Scheme
Two people were arrested in Plano for an alleged gift card scheme involving several North Texas stores. Police say it’s a scam called “gift card draining.” It involves scammers grabbing unpurchased gift cards from service kiosks and getting the card numbers and PIN codes. Once the scammers get the information, they reseal the cards and put them back on the shelves. Then, when someone buys a tampered card, the scammer drains all of the money from the prepaid card. Plano police seized 4,100 tampered Apple gift cards valued at $649,000 in connection to the scheme.

172 People Arrested as Police Target ORC in Vaughan
Police say 172 people have been arrested as officers target “organized retail crime” in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. Police said say that they have laid 358 charges and recovered more than $150,000 worth of stolen property. The Theft Project began on Dec. 6, in collaboration with Vaughan Mills, the Retail Council of Canada and retail loss prevention officers. The main goal of the project has been to reduce financial losses for retailers in the community while also addressing retail crime and enhancing security. High-risk locations were identified based on historical data as well as information provided by retailers, police data and current cases. Police said the project is ongoing.

Over $326,000 in Merchandise Seized in ORC Bust
Several Bay Area law enforcement agencies collaborated on a months-long retail theft investigation that led to the arrest of an Oakland man and netted suspected stolen merchandise worth over $326,000. The investigation involved the CHP’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force (ORCTF) as well as the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and the San Ramon Police Department (SRPD) has led to the recovery of suspected stolen merchandise valued at over $326,000 and the arrest of a suspect operating as a fence for stolen goods. Authorities recovered stolen goods from Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, T.J. Maxx, Safeway, Rite Aid and Sunglass Hut with a value of over $326,000 in addition to seizing over $12,000 in cash profits from the illegal operation.

Task Force Credited with Nearly 90 Retail Theft Arrests
Authorities in San Mateo County, California gave an update on a task force aimed at stopping organized retail theft on the Peninsula, saying the effort has led to nearly 90 arrests in six months. Police in Daly City, San Bruno and San Mateo, along with the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, touted “significant progress” since the task force was enacted in October 2023. Through April 26, the effort has led to 88 arrests in connection with 82 crimes and the recovery of at least 719 items with a total value of $23,521, officials said. Two weapons were also seized.

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Organized Theft Ring Brought Down in Operation Makeup or Breakup
Three women have been arrested after a six-month investigation called “Operation Makeup Break Up,” authorities announced. The operation began in late 2023 with arrests of repeat shoplifters. Detectives learned the suspects had been operating illicit makeup stores inside their homes since 2018. Authorities served over 32 search warrants on three different locations in Phoenix and Tonopah, which is where the women allegedly stored and sold the stolen items. Over half a million dollars’ worth of stolen merchandise from the suspects’ homes was recovered. ULTA Beauty, Target, Bath & Body Works and Sephora were some of the stores the women allegedly stole from.

13 Arrested, $150k in Merchandise Recovered in ORC Theft Ring Bust
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrests of 13 people in connection to organized retail theft involving Home Depot, Target, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Macy’s, and Sunglass Hut. The San Jose and Campbell Police Departments also assisted with the service of the search warrants at the homes that were believed to be involved in an organized retail theft ring. Investigators also recovered about $150,000 in stolen retail merchandise.

3 Arrested for Theft of Over $200k Worth of Electronics
Three people were arrested on suspicion of grand theft after a two-day operation resulted in over $200,000 worth of wearable electronic equipment being recovered, according to the California Highway Patrol. Detectives and investigators from the Kern County Auto Theft Task force (KernCATT), Tulare County Auto Theft Task Force (T-RATT) and the Cargo Theft Interdiction Program (CTIP) launched an investigation into a truckload of electronic merchandise originating from Kentucky and bound for a distribution center in Tulare County. During transit, officers say the truck made an unscheduled stop, where the driver and passengers allegedly tampered with the trailer’s security devices. When the truck failed to arrive at its scheduled destination, CHP investigators conducted an enforcement stop on the truck and the entire cargo load valued at $218,039, including Quest 2 Virtual Reality Headsets, Ray-Ban Sunglasses, and Virtual Reality link cable, was recovered.

Shoplifting Ringleader Caught in New Mexico
It may have been one of the biggest shoplifting rings in Albuquerque. However, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department said they caught the kingpin. Some of the more than 18 people involved in this ring are accused of stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise and then taking the items to the fence who buys the products and sells them. Their investigation eventually led them to Raul Garcia, the “King Pin” of the operation. The ring racked up more than $100,000. The department has been tracking this ring since June 2023. Garcia is facing organized retail crime, money laundering, racketeering, and tampering with evidence charges.

For Those Interested in Learning More

April was another busy month for those involved in organized retail crime. For those interested in learning more, here are some of the additional incidents that took place this month. Click on the links to explore some of these events:

Police Nab Suspects Accused of Stealing $23K of Lululemon Merchandise
A burglary at a store in Napa, California led several law enforcement agencies on a multi-jurisdictional chase, culminating in the recovery of $23,000-worth of leggings.

5 South Florida Men Arrested for $50K Retail Theft Scheme
Five people from Miami-Dade were arrested for their involvement in a large-scale ORC fraud scheme that spanned across Florida.

Career Shoplifter Sentenced to 30 Years After $20,000 Sunglass Heist
A career shoplifter landed herself behind bars after she went on a sunglasses heist at a retail store in Tampa, stealing approximately $20,000 worth of designer sunglasses.

Trio Steals More Than $70K Worth of Merchandise from Target Stores
Two women and a teenager are facing charges after police say they targeted Target stores from the Valley to Tucson, to steal more than $70,000 worth of merchandise.

4 Charged in Multi-State Retail Theft Conspiracy
Four Guatemalan nationals have been arrested for their alleged roles in a scheme to steal and resell high-value items from retailers in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

Masked Thief Steals 50 iPhones from Display in Berkeley Apple store
A collaborative law enforcement effort arrested of three individuals associated with the theft from the Apple Store in Berkeley, California. A video shows a man stealing nearly 50 iPhones from the store valued at $49,230.

3 Maryland Men Charged with Stealing Over $100K of Items in Alleged ORC Crew
Three Maryland men have been charged with stealing more than $100,000 worth of items in an alleged organized retail theft ring.

Your input and support can help send a critical message. If you have an ORC case that you would like to submit for the monthly round-up, please forward an email to us at

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