The Facebook videos of brazen thieves walking into retail stores and taking whatever they wanted as people filmed their thefts have gone viral.
But as three Stockton residents who were part of an organized retail theft ring found out on Wednesday, local law enforcement are taking the organized theft very seriously.
Acting on the tip of an unidentified local retailer who believed than an organized theft was about to occur, the Manteca Police Department apprehended three people and recovered all of the property that authorities believe they were about to take without paying.
Victoria Pichardo, 27, Joseph Atalig, 25, and Guy Franco, 57, were all arrested and charged with conspiracy and grand theft – both felonies. All three Stockton residents are currently being held on $150,000 bail and are scheduled to appear in Department 1 of the Manteca branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court today at 1:25 p.m. to answer to the charges.
The organized retail theft rings end up costing consumers more money as businesses raise prices to compensate for the losses.
Some retailers, like Apple, have resorted to posting armed security guards or hiring local police officers to guard their stores after thieves have brazenly stormed in and taken display models off of the showroom floor and walked out as security and customer cameras captured the incident.
An organized theft ring out of Napa was responsible for a series of thefts at Ulta Beauty stores throughout Northern California according to authorities, taking $180,000 worth of products – mostly high-end perfumes and colognes with the intent of selling them online at a reduced price – before they were caught.
In response to the uptick in these types of crimes, Manteca Police have begun working with loss prevention employees at local retailers and carrying out directed patrols to maintain a presence and deter groups like the one arrested Wednesday from attempting the grab and go thefts.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.