California Highway Patrol : California Authorities Bust Retail Theft Operation – 21 County Span, 10 Years

California Authorities Bust $8 Million Beauty Product Theft Ring Spanning 21 Counties

California law enforcement officials have successfully dismantled a large-scale theft operation that targeted retail stores across the state, resulting in the recovery of stolen beauty products worth $8 million. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) announced the arrest of an individual believed to be the mastermind behind the statewide crime ring, following an extensive investigation.

The unnamed ringleader allegedly recruited and paid at least seven individuals to steal products from Ulta Beauty stores and other retail outlets. These stolen goods were then sold at significantly discounted prices through the ringleader’s Amazon storefront. Authorities have revealed that this multimillion-dollar scheme had been ongoing for nearly a decade.

The thefts occurred in a total of 21 counties, including Alameda, Kern, Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento. The investigation involved multiple law enforcement agencies, such as the California Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Loss prevention teams from targeted stores also participated in the operation.

The CHP Organized Retail Crime Task Force became involved in the investigation after federal investigators requested their assistance in August 2023. In December of the same year, search warrants were executed at various locations in Southern California, resulting in the arrest of multiple suspects.

The California Department of Justice has filed 140 felony counts related to the operation, including 136 counts of felony grand theft. Other charges include organized retail theft, conspiracy, and receipt of stolen property. California Attorney General Rob Bonta held a news conference in San Diego, where the complaint was filed, and revealed that a total of nine individuals have been charged.

CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee emphasized the importance of collaboration between law enforcement agencies and retailers in combating organized retail crime. He highlighted the success of the CHP Organized Retail Crime Task Force, which has been involved in over 2,300 investigations, leading to the arrest of more than 2,200 suspects and the recovery of stolen goods valued at over $41 million.

Authorities are urging anyone with information about retail theft to report it through the CHP website. They also advise witnesses of retail crimes to refrain from intervening and instead call 911.

This successful operation serves as a significant blow to organized retail crime in California and demonstrates the effectiveness of collaborative efforts between law enforcement agencies and retailers in combating such criminal activities.

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