Four women arrested for involvement in multi-store theft ring
Web Producer: Taylor Higgins
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A multi-agency investigation that began in early 2012 led to the arrest of four women who were involved in a large, multi-store theft ring.
Earlier in the year, the Arizona Organized Retail Crime Association alerted Tucson police to a group of women who seemed to be targeting CVS stores in order to shoplift large amounts of merchandise, according to Sgt. Maria Hawke with the Tucson Police Department.
In August, investigators with the Major Theft Offenders Unit, or MTOU, met with CVS Loss Prevention Representatives to initiate a more thorough investigation into the thefts. At that time, it was believed that a group of four women were involved in six to eight separate shoplifting incidents that occurred at CVS stores in and around Tucson, according to Hawke.
Hawke tells KGUN9 that a more in depth investigation revealed that the women were part of an organized retail theft ring, in which 20 to 30 separate large-scale shoplifting incidents had occurred at CVS stores, along with other businesses such as Safeway, Walgreens, Ross and Charming Charlies stores.
Investigators learned that the women would steal large amounts of cosmetics, jewelry, accessories and clothing, and the give them to other people who would then sell the items at the Tanque Verde Swap Meet, Hawke says.
In November, agents recovered a large amount of merchandise with an estimated value of more than $100,000 during a search of a home and store at the Tanque Verde Swap Meet, according to Hawke.
As a result of the investigation, MTOU arrested 25-year-old Jessica Rodriguez and 31-year-old Melesia Romo. The women were charged with one count of illegally conducting an enterprise, one count of money laundering and one count of theft, all felony offenses.
Veronica Munoz, 33, and karla Castro, 20, were also arrested and charged with one count of illegally conducting an enterprise, one count of money laundering, one count of theft and one count of organized retail theft, all felony offenses.
A warrant for the arrest of 27-year-old Karina Ortiz has been obtained. She is charged with one count of illegally conducting an enterprise, one count of money laundering, one count of theft and six counts of organized retail theft.