HAZEL PARK (WWJ) – A mother-daughter team from Macomb County are among five people charged in what officials are calling a massive shoplifting ring.
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard says 47-year-old Sandra Cooper of Warren; her daughter, 29-year-old April Cooper; and a third woman, 24-year-old Shantell Collins of Detroit, were dressed up in clothes specially fitted with secret compartments and given a shopping list of specific things to steal.
“A lot of the folks that have this to a high level, they actually create booster garments,” Bouchard explained. “They have gaps in between their legs, and a longer dress … intentionally to be able to conceal items that they’re taking.”
The three women got away with a lot, he said, in the biggest retail fraud case he’s ever seen.
“Over $3 million worth of Victoria’s Secret Products, $30,000 worth of CVS and Wallgreens products, and another $10,000 worth of miscellaneous products from other stores and facilities,” Bouchard said.
Items stolen, Bouchard said, included the popular allergy pill Zyrtec and other over the counter medications.
An investigation revealed the two men allegedly running the operation — 28-year-old Shah Khalish of Hazel Park, and 23-year-old Delwar Miah of Detroit — stored the goods at a warehouse in Hazel Park and then sold it online.
“They bought this warehouse about nine months ago with $200,000 in cash,” Bouchard said. “So they were generating that much money.”
The three women, he said, were stealing an estimated $9,000 t0 $15,000 in merchandise per person, per day and we paid $2,500 a day for their services.
Bouchard said the operation stretched from metro Detroit to Las Vegas and possibly other cities.
“Most of the Victoria’s Secret stuff came from Vegas,” Bouchard said. “What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas.”
The investigation began with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Enforcement Team looking into what investigators thought might be a methamphetamine operation.
All five suspects were arraigned on charges of organized retail fraud and released on bond.
The defendants’ next scheduled court date is April 25 at 1:30 P.M. at the 44th District Court before Judge Derek Meinecke. Additional charges are pending review by the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office.
Bouchard said there may be additional suspects as an investigations continues.