ORANGE, Calif. (KTLA) — Three “sophisticated” retail thieves were arrested at The Outlets at Orange with thousands in stolen merchandise, California Highway Patrol announced Wednesday.
The investigation began when highway patrol officers in the Organized Retail Crime Task Force spotted two people walking toward the mall with “booster bags.”
Booster bags are handmade foil-lined bags often used by shoplifters to exit stores with stolen merchandise without triggering the stores’ anti-theft alarms.
One of the suspects then entered a store and came out about two minutes later with his bag fully loaded, California Highway Patrol officials said in a news release.
As he walked out, a female accomplice entered.
The suspect then walked to a minivan in the parking lot and dumped out the stolen merchandise.
That’s when investigators swooped in and detained him, waiting for his accomplice to return.
Using the booster bags and security sensor disabling tools, the thieves stole 31 pairs of Levi’s jeans valued at $2,202, according to CHP.
About an hour later, the investigators saw someone “acting suspiciously” in a retail store at the same mall, authorities said.
That person was also seen filling a booster bag with merchandise. He was immediately approached by investigators as he left the store.
That suspect was in possession of high-end Gucci clothing valued at $2,499 and “burglary tools almost identical to the tools possessed by the first two suspect,” the California Highway Patrol said.
All three were arrested on suspicion of violating California’s Organized Retail Crime law and multiple other theft charges.
The California Highway Patrol said its investigators caught the three thieves during a “proactive operation.”
After a string of thefts targeting high-end stores last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom directed CHP to increase their presence near major retail sites to help catch the thieves.