A new breed of shoplifter swipes goods not for his or her own use but to be sold through swap meets, online auction sites such as eBay, and other places, reports the Arizona Republic. Police have noticed a sharp rise in organized retail theft. Merchant associations say shoplifting rings account for the majority of the billions of dollars in losses posted by retailers.
“It’s been a huge problem for a number of years, but it’s a lot more organized now,” said Michelle Ahlmer, president of the Arizona Retailers Association, who started hearing about the shoplifting rings about a decade ago. In an hour and a half, a 15-year-old girl and three women in her family stole upwards of $7,500 in clothing and other merchandise at one Phoenix mall. Eleven family members have been charged with crimes after an investigation suggested that the family had been stealing clothing from malls throughout the area to sell out of their homes.