King County prosecutor nails shoplifting rings

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on May 19, 2011 at 11:23 AM

Updated Thursday, May 19 at 5:23 PM

SEATTLE, Wash.--We often think of shoplifting as a petty crime, but at least two major organized shoplifting rings have been operating in King County over the past year, making millions off of the mundane.

Prosecutors released surveillance video of an alleged mother/daughter team of heroin addicts who would steal up to $1,000 a day from stores like QFC, Target and Fred Meyer.

They and others would sell the good to middle men and fences who sold it locally and overseas.

And they would steal razor blades, batteries and cheap perfume -- everyday items that brought in $6.1 million over the past year for the two rings.
  
Prosecutors allege the GMS Market in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood sent shoplifters to steal things they'd sell at their store and online, even selling food with the QFC labels still on it.
  
"We're all victims of these crimes," said Jan Teague of the Washington Retail Association. "The people that work in the stores are the victims. And the people that buy these goods are victims because the prices of the goods goes up 10 to 20 percent to try and compensate for the significant loses."

And that's not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes lost to the state.

Six people have been arrested. They face anywhere from 10 months to five years in prison.
 

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