3OYS: Suspected baby formula thieves compare themselves to Robin Hood

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Drugs, maybe jewelry, but baby formula? Turns out, formula is a hot commodity on the black market. 3TV discovered thieves will do just about anything to get baby formula.

On Monday's 3 On Your Side, two suspects talk about who they believe is benefiting from their actions.

Darin Fredrickson is an expert in organized retail crime for Subrosa Investigations. While interviewing a suspect, he asks, "So today, do you know how many cans you got?" The suspect answers, "12."

The suspected thief admits to selling cans for some quick cash to support his heroin habit.

FREDRICKSON: "How much do you get per can?"
SUSPECT: "Five."
FREDRICKSON: "Straight up or do you get more?"
SUSPECT: "Five."
FREDRICKSON: "No seven, no eight, just five dollars a can?"
SUSPECT: "I think like the purple, today we got eight."

So who's buying it?

SUSPECT: "We sold it to mothers, bro. We really {expletive} did. Mothers who would say, thank you so much, thank you so much for giving us this formula. Like, we would sell like three to four cans for like 20 bucks."

The suspect went so far as to compare himself to Robin Hood.

SUSPECT: "I just think of it like Robin Hood."
FREDRICKSON: "And why is that?"
SUSPECT: "These parents need it. They can't afford the formula. It's so {expletive} expensive. You know, and that's all I think of it like. Everybody can look at it differently."

But these guys aren't the only ones involved in black market deals. Mothers on government assistance are also suspected of making big bucks on baby formula.

Fredrickson's suspicion: "Just gets them through coupons, from the government and then she just resells them on the street."