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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: organized retail theft

Charges: Thefts cost Seattle stores $6M

SEATTLE (AP) — The crime appeared petty on the surveillance video: a mother-daughter team of heroin-addict shoplifters nonchalantly wheeling a cart of boosted items through the open sliding doors of a grocery store.

But their arrest early last year led investigators to the organizers of a major, international theft operation, prosecutors say — one of two unrelated rings that cost Seattle-area stores an estimated $6.1 million in lost merchandise, money the chains try to recoup by raising prices for everyone else. The busted rings represent just a tiny fraction of what is an enormous regional and national problem, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg told a news conference Thursday.

“What we are talking about today are people who direct armies of shoplifters,” Satterberg said.

Jason Moulton, a former FBI agent who heads local loss-prevention efforts at the Safeway grocery chain, has spent years lobbying law enforcement on the problem, and it was a workshop he conducted that prompted local police departments, including Normandy Park south of Seattle, to start paying closer attention. When a QFC grocery store reported thefts by the mother-daughter team, investigators from Normandy Park arrested them and joined police from neighboring Burien in launching an investigation.

Read the rest of the story by Associated Press writer Gene Johnson by clicking the link below.

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