Independent Retailers Beware Organized Shoplifting

ShopliftingWhen prices go up, consumers may blame rising gas prices, or perhaps an increase in demand. They rarely point fingers at crime bosses or shoplifting rings. Unfortunately, retailers and consumers in the Seattle area know much too well that organized crime lives beyond the days of Al Capone and Jimmy Hoffa. The cost suffered by Seattle area stores and absorbed by honest paying customers was $6.1 million in lost merchandise. It was the bust of a mother-daughter team at a local QFC grocery store that finally launched an official investigation after years of lobbying to law enforcement from local loss-prevention teams.

What Investigators Found and Shocked Local Retailers

The Associated Press issued a press release  on May 19, stating that King County Prosecutor, Dan Satterberg, has been made aware of two retail theft rings, directing armies of shoplifters. The AP reports, “Satterberg told a Thursday morning news conference that the shoplifters, many of them drug addicts, grabbed items such as chicken breasts or razors and were paid pennies on the dollar.” The ring leaders made the real profit.

As The Spokesman-Review reveals, “Prosecutors say the investigation revealed that dozens of thieves were working for a couple. The couple is accused of reselling some of the stolen items to local markets and directing other goods to Cambodia, smuggled in shipments of automobiles.” The investigation also revealed an unrelated family act. “The family members, Gulshan Rai and his wife, son and daughter, told investigators they made $7,000 to $8,000 a month selling stolen items,” according to The Spokesman-Review. The downfall in their plans? They got caught. The prosecution of these Seattle-based shoplifting leaders, however, is far from solving the organized retail crime problem. As a CBS News report reveals, $30 million of merchandise is shoplifted each year, and once these shoplifters strike an entire area, they are likely to move on to another state, making organized shoplifting a national problem.

To hear more about the movement to make organized retail crime a federal offense, click HERE FOR VIDEO.