Police bust Seattle grocery store theft ring

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by NATALIE SWABY / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @NSwabyKing5

KING5.com

Posted on December 16, 2013 at 11:28 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 17 at 10:39 AM

SEATTLE- It started with two grocery stores noticing a trend. Items like razors, body sprays, and baby formula were being stolen often.
 
Investigators with QFC and Safeway reported that at the beginning of the year, an informant told them that based on "conversations on the street" it appeared the owner of Tienda Mi Ranchito, located on the 7600 block of Rainier Avenue South, was knowingly buying stolen merchandise and reselling it.
 
The grocery chains launched their own covert investigation, and brought their findings to Seattle police.
 
Officers found the owner of Tienda Mi Ranchito was allegedly using others to do his dirty work, according to Detective Renee Witt
 
"He was using those people to go out and steal these items and sell them to him for pennies on the dollar," said Det. Witt.
 
The probable cause statement lists one example from January 3rd. A person working undercover sold the store two bottles of Tide, four disposable razors, three containers of baby formula, and six cans of spam. The items were worth more than $140, but the store owner, who was allegedly told the merchandise was stolen, only paid $20, according to police.
 
"They got him on tape telling the undercover officers what he wanted them to go out and steal," said Det. Witt.
 
Police say after six months of conducting their own investigation and several undercover sales, officers arrested the store owner on Friday afternoon. He was booked into jail, but has since been released. He is due in court on Wednesday. Attempts to reach the owner directly were unsuccessful. At his home and store, King 5 was told he did not want to make any comments.

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