Chandler police bust retail theft ring

CHANDLER, AZ - We all try to keep our grocery bill to a minimum, but over the past couple of months there has been a group of people working against our efforts.

With the help of Fry's Food Store, Chandler police arrested seven people in connection with a retail theft ring that started in June.

Chandler police said the suspects steal high priced merchandise from various grocery store chains throughout Chandler and Mesa. The most common products stolen include Tide detergent, baby formula, diapers, and high-end alcohol. The thieves then sell it at a discounted rate.

"They're not a typical shoplifter. They're people that have cell phones and are talking to each other and watch and take massive amounts of merchandise" said Joe Kopelic of Fry's Foods.

Surveillance video inside Fry's captured groups and individuals stealing products using large bags or lining the inside of shopping carts. The operation has new parent Celine Taylor extremely upset.

"It's disgusting. I work hard. I go to school. So it is a big slap in the face for how hard we work every day," said Taylor.

The merchandise loss not only affects efforts to keep prices low at grocery stores, but it can also take a toll on tax revenues.

"All around it's a major loss. It's time consuming to chase these folks. It's police resources, it's my resources, and it's every other retailers resources, to try and manage this issue," said Kopelic.

Fry's Food Stores in Chandler have lost $7,000 worth of merchandise due to the retail theft ring.

The stores have not increased prices or locked up any merchandise due to the crime.

Fry's and other grocery chains are working closely with police to catch others involved.

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