A massive retail crime ring in San Jose, California has been unravelled:
The Le and Vo organizations are accused of buying truckloads of stolen merchandise from crews of freelance shoplifters, repackaging the products and then reselling them throughout the United States at an enormous profit . . . until this week.
The hordes of “booster” thieves are not directly related to the crime organizations. They are independent bandits who hit store after store on a routine basis, stealing a variety of products from Safeway, Target, Walgreen’s, Longs Drugs and Savemart. They might stealthily stuff handfuls of Claritin into their clothes or boldly make off with shopping carts full of items without paying.
They would contact the Vo and Le organizations to “fence” the merchandise, receiving 25 cents on the dollar. The families were not cooperating but acted as “friendly competitors,” according to officers John Barg and Doug Gerbrandt, the lead case agents.
Nearly $6 million in stolen property was recovered following arrests along with over $100,000 in cash and luxury goods. Interesting to see that the investigation found human elements to trace and ultimately use to pull the criminals down. In short, they managed to infiltrate the crime organization by impersonating one of the booster thieves. Although there are several comments of how “sophisticated” the operations were, no technology at all (ID tags, camera surveillance, etc) is mentioned. I guess that means they were sophisticated in the sense of a regular retailer’s operational sophistication, which sadly is not usually saying a lot about security. I mean to say, the criminals were probably infiltrated by police investigators as easily as retailers were infiltrated by criminals.