Why You Should Think Twice About Buying Drastically Reduced Items

Houston Police officer James Sobota demonstrates how people line their bags to steal retail items. Examples of high demand consumer items are on the table.
Shoppers this holiday season are being warned that items being sold at enormous discounts might have been shoplifted by retail crime professionals and may be unsafe to use.

Area businesses face significant losses due to Organized Retail Crime. FBI statistics peg the losses as high as $30 billion dollars a year nationwide.

Rania Mankarious with Crime Stoppers of Houston says criminals run a sophisticated operation beginning with crooks known as boosters.

"These men and women steal items in high quantities and sell them to fences. The fence, will turn around and sell the item at a discounted price directly to consumers or at a flea market, pawn shop or online. The fence can also sell the items to a middle man, who can then open, contaminate, alter expiration dates and repackage the goods for individual sale."

High demand consumer products include baby formula, laundry detergent, diabetic testing strips, over the counter medication and consumer electronics.

Lined shopping bags

Houston Police Officer James Sobota says shoplifters rip the stores off using heavily lined shopping bags to avoid detection.

"And this is quite common. What this does, with all the security tags and the monitors near the front of the store, they will conceal them in here and most cases, they do not pick up on the monitors by the front door. Most cases they have a getaway vehicle close by the front door, they jump into the car and take off."

The thefts happen so quickly retailers have no idea they've been ripped off.

Officials say consumers should remember that if an item is found for an unusually low price, chances are it may have come from organized retail crime activity.

 

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...