San Diego County Woman Charged as Alleged Ringleader of Retail Theft Ring

San Diego County Woman Charged as Alleged Ringleader of Retail Theft Ring
California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks at a press conference in a file image. (Courtesy of California Attorney General's Office)
City News Service

SAN DIEGO—A San Diego County woman who allegedly ran a retail theft ring that targeted stores nationwide and resulted in nearly $8 million in losses has been charged along with her alleged co-conspirators, the California Attorney General’s Office announced Feb. 16.

The defendant, whose name was not publicly disclosed by prosecutors, allegedly directed others to shoplift products—largely high-demand makeup items—from various retail stores and then resold the stolen products on her online Amazon storefront.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said those items were resold on her storefront for “a fraction” of their usual price.

The thefts mainly targeted Ulta and Sephora stores, the A.G.’s Office said, and occurred over the course of nearly a decade.

Mr. Bonta said the crimes took place “from the West Coast to the East Coast,” while also striking stores in 21 California counties. The California thefts occurred in Alameda, Placer, Kern, Contra Costa, Orange, Los Angeles, Santa Clara, San Diego, Sacramento, San Mateo, Solano, Riverside, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Napa, Marin, Tulare, San Bernardino, Sonoma, Ventura, and Yolo counties.

Mr. Bonta said that while the current losses are calculated at nearly $8 million, the investigation was ongoing and it’s possible the total loss might end up exceeding that amount.

Officials found an estimated $400,000 in recovered products during their investigation into the theft ring, the A.G.’s Office said.

In total, 140 counts have been filed against nine defendants. Those include 136 felony counts of grand theft, two counts of receiving stolen property, one count of conspiracy, and one count of organized retail crime.

“Organized retail crime has significant financial and safety implications for businesses, retailers and consumers,” Mr. Bonta said in a statement. “Today, we are addressing an audacious instance of organized retail theft and making it clear that such criminal activity will not be accepted in California.”