PHOENIX -- Police say they have arrested a woman who used fake, homemade coupons to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from Target stores around the Valley.
Terry Darcy, 51, was taken into custody on Friday. She's facing charges of theft by misrepresentation, possession of forged instruments and trafficking in stolen property.
The investigation began six weeks ago after police were contacted by analysts from Target.
The Target analysts suspected Darcy was using the fake coupons to get large quantities of products for free.
Detectives with the Phoenix Police Business and Economic Stability Team (B.E.S.T.) immediately began gathering information and evidence including receipts and video surveillance footage.
The investigation showed more than $175,000 in current loss to the business, but records also indicate the suspect may have been operating since 2008 and could have obtained more than $300,000 a year in fraudulent theft and returns.
Police served a search warrant on Terry Darcy’s hotel room at 2102 W. Dunlap Avenue on Friday.
Detectives discovered her master copies of coupons, stacks of homemade coupons and other materials as well as recently "stolen" products valued at more than $500.
The suspect told detectives she has been running her operation for more than five years and that she spends $145 a day on her heroin addiction.
Police said, in some cases, Darcy was able to get cash or store credit by returning the products she got for free with the fake coupons.
Darcy ran the scam with her son, according to court documents.
Those same records say that Darcy created fake coupons with a copy machine at the Office Max at 79th Avenue and Bell Road. She would go there twice a week, according to investigators who actually followed her to the store and watched her make the coupon copies.
Police said Darcy would use the Target gift cards she obtained by returning products to pay the difference for products that were not free after the coupon discounts. She would also sell the gift cards at check cashing businesses.
Darcy told police she had been using fake coupons at Target since 2006 and estimated she was stealing $5,000 worth of merchandise each week.