Costa Mesa woman accused of stealing over $300,000 in designer merchandise from SoCal stores

Local news

Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of allegedly stolen goods have been recovered from the home of a Costa Mesa woman who is accused of committing a series of high-end retail thefts, the California Highway Patrol announced Wednesday.

Ekatarina Zharkova, 38, was arrested last week. She is suspected of taking the merchandise — which included purses and clothes from designers such as Gucci, Prada and Jimmy Choo — from stores in Southern California, according to a CHP news release.

The California Highway Patrol released this photo of the merchandise that they say was stolen.
The California Highway Patrol released this photo of the merchandise that they say was stolen.

Investigators from the agency’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force targeted the woman after observing her stealing merchandise multiple times and from different stores, authorities said.

Zharkova was taken into custody in her car at the South Coast shopping center in Costa Mesa after she allegedly stole more than $3,500 in merchandise from the Nordstrom Rack, according to CHP.

Investigators had followed the suspect to the store, where they witnessed her filling a shopping cart with designer items and covering them with a coat before she used a device to remove the security sensors, the release stated. She then allegedly left the store without paying for the merchandise.

Ekatarina Zharkova is accused of shoplifting merchandise worth more than $300,000. (Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

A search warrant was served at the woman’s residence, which was “packed wall to wall in every room” with stolen merchandise, according to CHP. The items still had their store tags and disabled security sensors in place.

Photos released by the agency also showed a vehicle with its front-passenger side, back seat and trunk all filled with the goods.

Overall, more than 2,300 stolen items with a total value of $328,683, officials added.

CHP released this photo of the woman's car, which also appeared to be packed with the allegedly stolen goods.
CHP released this photo of the woman’s car, which also appeared to be packed with the allegedly stolen goods.

Investigators say they believe the woman was going to sell the designer goods online.

Zharkova was booked into the Orange County Jail on suspicion of grand theft. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case and will decide whether to file charges in the case.

CHP’s task force was recently directed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to bolster its efforts to mitigate retail theft amid a recent spike in such crimes, many of which were smash-and-grab robberies committed by so-called “flash mobs.”

In a statement last week, the task force said it will be “collaborating with local law enforcement agencies to aggressively investigate organized retail crimes, make arrests and recover stolen merchandise from brick-and-mortar and online retail stores throughout the state.”

Incidents of organized retail theft can be reported online by going to the website https://www.chp.ca.gov/notify-chp/organized-retail-theft-program.

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