SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

August 31, 2013

Police: Organized retail thieves hit mall stores

By Jo-Anne MacKenzie
Staff Writer

---- — 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.

“It’s safe to say she’s not using everything she’s stealing,” he said. “It’s safe to say there are other people involved.”

It’s not unusual for thieves to use trash bags or large pocketbooks to fill with merchandise, he said. Some people go so far as to line trash bags with duct tape and aluminum foil in an effort to circumvent a store’s security system, he said.

While Salem, N.H., has seen an increase in thefts, Patten said, organized retail theft is not uncommon.

“In 100 percent of the cases, the dollar amount and the number of items taken is large,” Patten said. “It’s big hits, big scores each time.”

Anyone with information on any of these suspects is asked to call police at 603-893-1911 or the Southern N.H. Crimeline at 603-893-6600.