Couple accused of stealing $40K worth of liquor from Fry's stores

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Summerlea Hunt and Joshua Atherton (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Summerlea Hunt and Joshua Atherton (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

Surprise police have arrested a Buckeye couple believed to have stolen more than $40,000 worth of liquor from various Fry’s stores.

Officers arrested Summerlea Hunt, 33, and Joshua Atherton, 37, Monday after a two-month investigation into an organized retail theft operation.

Working with the Fry’s Food Stores Organized Retail Crime Investigations team, investigators “identified the Buckeye couple as being responsible for more than 100 cases …,” Sgt. Tim Klarkowski wrote in a news alert announcing the arrest. That averages out to about $400 worth of alcohol per incident.

Investigators believe the pair hit several stores throughout Maricopa County.

When officers arrested Hunt and Atherton, they had just walked out of a Fry’s store “carrying backpacks filled with stolen liquor,” according to Klarkowski.

“They subsequently indicated they had been engaged in these activities since December 2016,” he said.

Hunt and Atherton were booked into Maricopa County’s Fourth Avenue Jail on suspicion of numerous felony charges, including organized retail theft, trafficking in stolen property, removing an anti-theft device and fraudulent schemes.

At this point, it is not clear if either Hunt or Atherton has a criminal record. 

"Organized Retail Crime costs the retail industry approximately $30 billion each year," according to the National Retail Federation. "It is continuing to grow, with 83 percent of merchants surveyed reporting an increase in the past year, according to the 12th annual Organized Retail Crime survey ...."

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