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August 31, 2013

Police: Organized retail thieves hit mall stores

SALEM, N.H. — A shoplifting suspect who has hit the Mall at Rockingham Park repeatedly may have stolen as much as $100,000 worth of merchandise from stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire over the past several months — and her targeting Victoria’s Secret seems to suggest she could be behind a string of similar thefts in Peabody.

The female suspect represents just one of a number of recent shoplifting incidents that are the work of organized thieves, Salem, N.H., Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten said Thursday.

Victoria’s Secret in the Mall at Rockingham Park has been hit eight times in the past seven or eight weeks, he said.

“Each theft is worth a few thousand bucks,” he said.

Peabody police are looking for the woman, too, and said they believe she is responsible for several thefts from stores at the Northshore Mall over the past few months. The Victoria’s Secret at that mall alone has sustained at least nine large thefts since April — including one on Thursday that netted a shoplifter $3,744 in bras — but police haven’t said whether the same woman is a suspect in those incidents.

In addition to Victoria’s Secret, the woman is suspected in thefts from Sephora and Abercrombie & Fitch, also in the Mall at Rockingham Park, Patten said.

On one occasion, she is believed to have stolen 80 bras from Victoria’s Secret.

The suspect is believed to carry a large bag. She quickly stuffs items into it and leaves the store, Patten said.

Organized retail theft is common, he said, and tough to stop.

“These organized retail rings sell to other stores or online for a lot less than the retail price,” he said. “There are any number of ways to get rid of stolen merchandise.”

When someone shoplifts in significant quantities, he said, it’s unlikely they are stealing items for their own use.

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