Five family members arrested on suspicion of large shoplifting operation

PHOENIX - A family of five has been arrested after a large shoplifting operation that took place in the Valley for more than one year.

According to Phoenix Police Officer James Holmes, a mother, son, son-in-law and two daughters identified as Terri and Lizzette Vargas, shoplifted from different stores between November 2013 and July 2014.

Holmes said the family was very organized. “On some occasions it's mom who tells them what she wants, what she wants them to steal. Another individual will drive the car and wait. Two others may go in and one may distract the employees while they commit their shoplifting,” he described.

The items, valued at $15,660 and most frequently clothes and lingerie, are believed to have been stolen to be sold or traded for drugs.

In June 2014, detectives purchased some of the stolen items from the family’s yard sale and continued surveillance.

Police discovered that two of the suspects stole from Arrowhead Mall and another pepper-sprayed a security guard in order to escape.

On August 8, police served a search warrant at the family’s home where they found several stolen items with tags and security devices. Five individuals were arrested at the home.

All the commotion startled neighbors. “It’s real quiet over here,” said Tina Marie Aguilar. She added that her mother who owns the home near the suspects, never noticed anything unusual about the family.

The suspects are facing a variety of felony and misdemeanor charges including fraud schemes, assault and aggravated robbery.

Phoenix Police believe that pursuing these types of operations helps to bring safety to the community and cuts down on drug-related crimes.

Both identified victims were found to be involved in previous shoplifting incidents.


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