• How highly organized criminals are targeting retailers and costing you money

    By: Siobhan Riley

    Updated:

    Organized retail crimes are becoming a full-time job for criminals. That practice is costing you, the consumer, and investigators believe social media makes it increasingly easy for the thieves to make a profit.

    Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Kohls, Dillard’s, Family Dollar and Gordmans have more in common than weekly sales. Many stores are being hit by organized retail crimes, specifically the “snatch and grab.”

    If you’ve ever finished shopping and noticed a car speeding away as you were leaving, you may have witnessed the getaway from a crime. 

    “It affects everyone, even our taxpayers because at the end of the day, taxes go up because of these things,” Home Depot store manager Reco Watson told FOX13.

    Investigators told FOX13 the criminals already know what they are going to take before stepping foot inside the store. Once the grab the items, they are out the store within minutes.


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    FOX13’s Siobhan Riley found of the same group of thieves hit at least six Home Depot stores more than 20 times between May and August of 2018.

    “It was in incident here where we had someone come in and walk out with a blower,” Watson said. “They just came in again…just in and out…it happened super quick.”

    Memphis police arrested MeKayne Haynes, 19, in March. He is accused of stealing $16,000 worth of merchandise.

    FOX13’s Siobhan Riley went to his home to ask him about the accusations. Danny Sweeney said the suspect, MeKayne Haynes, is the father of his great-grand child.

    Sweeney said Haynes was at work the time we stopped by the Parkway Village home.  Haynes later returned a phone call saying he had no comment.

    The problem is so prevalent that stores hired special investigators to track the criminals. 
    John Goodman is an organized retail crime investigator for Home Depot.  On average, he works about eight to 15 cases a week in parts of the southeast region.

    “It’s a full-blow operation,” Goodman explained. “A lot of the major fencing operations that we got after will hire 15 to 20 boosters at a time. Boosters…thieves…to go into our stores. Not just our stores, but all retailers.”

    We asked who is committing the crimes, and experts told us it is the same people committing violent crimes in neighborhoods.

    In Southaven, Mississippi, there are at least four known groups responsible for organized crimes. Some of the criminals have Tennessee tags and Memphis addresses.

    “Our mall officers are able to identify them by appearance, so we don’t give chase,” Captain Mark Little with the Southaven Police Department told FOX13. “It’s more dangerous these days to (chase them), but we can go back and get warrants for them.”

    Captain Little said these organized crimes are taking away from some of their resources, but they are working to combat the issues. 

    “We have a group of guys that will come in together and will work certain stores like Dillard's and Kohls and things like that,” Capt. Little explained. “Then we have a group of girls that come pretty regularly, and our guys know them pretty well.”

    A new law is also helping.

    Under the 2017 Mississippi ORC law, convicted organized shoplifters face up to 20 years in prison, a $25,000 fine or both.

    Some states are still working with legislation to implement ORC laws.

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