SFPD bust grocery store shoplifting ring

May 15, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Francisco police busted a big shoplifting ring this week, but not one that deals in electronics or clothes. This network steals and resells shampoo, conditioner, razor blades, batteries and the like.

Police confiscated $100,000 worth of disposable razors and $40,000 worth of batteries. These thieves were after everyday items they could sell for a quick profit.

"This is a first for us," said police Lt. Ed Santos.

Santos showed off the cache of Oil of Olay, Tide, toothbrushes, and even coffee, they confiscated from a two-bedroom apartment on Commercial Street in San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood, following an undercover sting operation.

"We saw bags and boxes of stolen property stacked up high against a wall," said Santos.

Two days of surveillance led them to arrest Dai Thai, 62, on Tuesday.

Police say the ringleader would put out a daily shopping list to a network of thieves from San Francisco to Walnut Creek and Alamo. They'd shoplift the goods item by item.

The goods were stolen from CVS, Target, Safeway and Walgreens stores. Police say Thai would pay cash, then re-sell them to a Mission District flea market and stores.

"We believe they're going to smaller mom and pop type stores. These items are probably being sold from anywhere between 20 to 40 cents on the dollar," said Santos.

Police called in executives for the victimized stores. They scanned the goods and figured out the whole cache is worth $300,000 - $400,000 retail.

They say its crimes like these that drive up consumer prices. Police are still investigating the possibility of more arrests as they inventory thousands of items.


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