Man allegedly steals $10K worth of baby formula to fuel heroin addiction

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Chandler police are releasing video of the man caught in the act stealing baby formula. 

Security cameras were watching as police say 39-year-old Robert Illa and an underage accomplice allegedly walk into the grocery store and head straight to the baby aisle, and nearly wipe the shelf clean. They conceal their stash in white trash cans, before making a run for the door. 

Police say the heist is pulled 24 times at various Fry's grocery stores from Chandler to Surprise, starting in July of 2016. 

In all, he got away with nearly $10,000 worth of merchandise.

But now he's facing the consequences. Illa was arrested earlier this month.

[RELATED: PD: handler man arrested for stealing, selling almost $10K of baby formula]

Organized retail crime investigator Darin Fredrickson says it was only matter of time before someone like him caught up to Illa.

"90 percent of the boosters out there, most of them are addicted to some type of drug," said Fredrickson.

In this case, Illa admitted he was reselling the formula to fund his heroin addiction.

According to Fredrickson, consumers wind up being the victims. "We all pay about $460 per person per year to cover theft such as this," he said.  

He adds, parents who but re-sold formula could also be putting their infants at risk. 

"There's no quality control and the heat affects these products, and once an unsuspecting buyer buys it, feeds it to their children, they don't know how this product was stored, maintained, so there's risks there, there's health risks," said Fredrickson. 

Illa has been charged with 11 felony counts of organized retail theft and is being held on a $2,000 bond.

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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

Click to learn more about Lauren.

Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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