Fairfax County police said they found $37,000 worth of stolen goods in a hotel room after they say they caught two men stealing merchandise at Springfield Town Center, NBC4 reports.
The two are believed to be part of an organized crime ring operating on the East Coast.
“They were pillaging, pillaging stores in the region and taking the stolen merchandise back to their hotel room,” Chief Kevin Davis said at a Friday news conference.
The police department had been alerted that the ring was operating in the county. At the mall, an officer recognized the two men, one from Hampton, Virginia and the other from New York, as suspects wanted in connection to a previous theft. The police said the two had stolen merchandise with them when they were stopped.
The police executed search warrants on their vehicle and hotel room.
“The hotel room itself contained more than $37,000 worth of stolen property,” Capt. John Lieb said in an interview with NBC4. The stolen loot that included perfumes, dresses, and children’s backpacks filled 15 trash bags, the station reported.
“Most of these boosters are now organized. I feel like I have to say this. We’re not talking about a kid who shoplifts a candy bar from a 7-Eleven. We’re not talking about that,” said Davis on Friday. “What we’re talking about are adults, young adults, who are organized. They have theft schemes. They work in concert with one another, to distract employees, and they steal large quantities of expensive merchandise. And sometimes they just walk into the store and grab what they want and leave. And that’s totally unacceptable.”
Davis said the thefts are not victimless crimes. “These are not just property crimes, and it’s not OK. … These crimes are often committed by people who are involved in violent crimes, and other crimes. They’re very transient. And they have to be held just as accountable as we hold any other group or persons involved in in criminal misconduct,” he said.
Davis said in 2023 Fairfax County had already seen an uptick in shoplifting incidents. “In fact, there are 20 exact addresses, 20 in Fairfax County, that equate for 20 percent of our overall crimes in Fairfax County. So we know that we have to do more and more and continue to be even more collaborative than we are — and we think we’re pretty collaborative to begin with — with the business community to stop this uptick in shoplifting and thefts that is occurring not only in Fairfax County, but in the entire region,” he said.
Davis said there is a new law in Virginia that makes organized efforts to steal a felony.
On a related note, the police credit a summer crime initiative with helping to decrease retail thefts and shoplifting cases. The initiative involves proactive police patrols, increased community engagement, and connecting with businesses.
The number of shoplifting cases dropped from 642 in May to 573 in June, police said.
Feature image courtesy NBC4
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