Sophisticated shoplifting ring busted after 6 years


by Carina Sonn

Posted on September 14, 2011 at 8:39 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 14 at 8:58 PM

PHOENIX - An illegal shopping spree that lasted for more than six years has been put to an end.

The sophisticated shoplifting ring targeted a number of stores and malls all around the Valley and netted hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen goods, according to officials.

"The sheer amount of time and the scope of the crimes that were being committed here, geographically, as well as the dollar amount is significant," said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Officials say the ring traveled in small groups, from two to five. One suspect would pre-position clothing and put it into a department store bag or purse, hand it off to another suspect that would sometimes pass it onto a different suspect.

Police have arrested 11 individuals: Shari Acosta, 18; Marcela Arias, 24; Octavio Corral, 38; Yolva Gonzalez Corral, 37; Josefina Felix, 34; Marcia Flores, 32; Crystal Garcia, 31; Elvira Gonzales, 47; Sonia Guajardo-Garcia, 26; Priscilla Palma, 23; Shania Williams, 22.

Police have a warrant for five more suspects.

The ring would allegedly keep what they wanted, sell some of the clothing at a fraction of the retail price and send the rest to Mexico to be sold there.

"We've recovered about $86,000 worth of merchandise and that probably is still a low figure," said Sgt. Aimee Smith.  

The group primarily targeted Banana Republic, Carter's, Children's Place, Dillard's, Disney Store, GAP, Hollister, Justice, Nike Outlet, Ralph Lauren Polo, Sears and Victoria's Secret.

The malls targeted the most frequently were Arrowhead Towne Center, Chandler Fashion Center, Desert Ridge Marketplace, Desert Sky Mall, Outlets at Anthem, Paradise Valley Mall, SanTan Village and Scottsdale Fashion Square.

The suspects face a number of felony charges and jail time.