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ORC 9-15-11





2011 Archives

Phoenix ORC Ring busted

An 11-member ORC ring has been arrested in Phoenix that targeted 76 stores at seven Valley malls over the past six years.  The primary malls they hit were Anthem Outlets, Desert Sky Mall, Arrowhead Town Center, San Tan Village Mall, Desert Ridge, Scottsdale Fashion Square, and Chandler Fashion Center. The main stores targeted were the Children's Place, the GAP, Victoria's Secret, Ralph Lauren Polo, Dillard's, Sears, Hollister, Nike Outlet, Disney, Carter's, Justice, and Banana Republic.

The organization used several different crews of two to five shoplifters who would enter malls as a group and specifically target certain stores that did not have significant video surveillance and were easy to get in and out of very quickly, investigators said. Their typical method of operation would be to stage the clothes in a store just before shoplifting them so they could get various sizes, colors or styles of an item, and to obtain anything they personally wanted, officers said.

Usually, the shoplifters had department store bags hidden on them, or they would walk in carrying their own large bags, investigators said. They would act quickly, placing merchandise in their bags once inside the store. They would then walk out of the store, usually handing the bag of stolen items to another co-conspirator, who would sometimes hand the bag to yet another accomplice who would be waiting outside, officers said.

After leaving the store, they would drop the stolen merchandise in their car, go back into the mall and do the same thing at another store, targeting several malls the same day, police said. The organization had multiple shoplifting crews at several different malls at one time.

Within a small crew of shoplifters, each crew member would typically keep some stolen items for their personal or family use, and then receive approximately 10 percent of the retail value of the remaining stolen items from the re-sellers in the organization, investigators said.

The re-entry point into the market occurred when the merchandise was filtered to these re-sellers, officers said. These re-sellers had clients who routinely purchased the stolen merchandise, either directly from their homes or at a preset meeting place, investigators said.

The shoplifters would plan their thefts anywhere from once a week to as often as five times a week, depending on their need for personal items or cash, police said. During one month, undercover officers observed members of the organization commiting 26 separate felony acts of shoplifting.

On average, each act caused the stores a minimum loss of $1,500. On the high end, the GAP Store in Anthem suffered a loss of $8,000, police said.

As a result of this investigation, seven search warrants were served on suspects' homes, resulting in the seizure of five vehicles, one handgun and $4,500 in cash. A total of 3,495 individual items of property believed to be stolen were recovered, valued at $86,771.85, police said.

Security officers from Macerich Management Systems at the Paradise Valley Mall initially identified the
co-conspirators from the organization in June. The investigation involved officers from the Desert Horizon Precinct's Neighborhood Enforcement Team, supervised by Sergeant Aimee Smith of the Phoenix Police Department, and also included officers with the Glendale Police Department and the Mesa Police Department.


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