Two women were arrested after they allegedly stole more than $3,500 worth of goods from a Fontana Rite Aid.
They entered the store and dumped skincare products and prescription medication into trash bags, according to the Fontana Police Department.
Daniel Romero of the Fontana Police Department said the women are from Los Angeles and are part of a bigger operation.
“They confessed to being involved in other retail thefts throughout the Inland Empire, so we put their pictures out, their info out, in hopes of if anybody is out there that recognizes them,” he said.
The Inland Empire isn’t alone. In a 2021 survey by the National Retail Federation, 69% of retailers said they saw a rise in organized retail crime during the previous year.
Kaylee Johnson of Blackbird Mercantile in Riverside said she’s also seen an uptick in people trying to steal.
“They grabbed the item, put it in their pocket. There was a lump, clearly a lump in their pocket, our tag was sticking out,” she said.
Police are working to fight back against retail thefts, which can include flash mobs and smash-and-grabs. Lt. Adam Smith of the Southern Division of the California Highway Patrol said they’ve had nearly 400 investigations since the CHP formed an organized retail task force in 2019.
So far, the CHP’s three divisions have collectively recovered more than $20 million in cash and stolen goods.
“These organized groups are putting out shopping lists of what they want people to gather and what they’re willing to buy that month from them so it could change from baby formula one month to a certain pair of denim jeans … Unfortunately, it’s a low-risk, high-reward for them right now, and that’s what our task forces are trying to change and it could be a very high-risk, low-reward with us being able to investigate them, capture them, pursue them and hold them accountable through the court system,” Smith said.