The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is looking to crack down on shoplifting as retail theft continues to rise. CMPD’s Organized Retail Theft Task Force has investigated more than two dozen cases so far this year.
CMPD said as the numbers increase, the issue is becoming a growing concern across the city.
“It’s frustrating for ourselves as a police department. It’s frustrating to our retail partners,” Detective Anthony Finocchio said in news conference Wednesday.
One recent case officers highlighted: a group of suspects who stole expensive tools from Home Depot stores throughout Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties.
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According to police, an investigation revealed that 33-year-old Steven Vanderburg had stolen power tools worth between $250,000 and $300,000 from Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement stores and sold them at discounted prices on social media sites.
Warrants were signed for the arrest of Vanderburg and his girlfriend, 28-year-old Cheri Taylor, on March 8.
The following day, law enforcement officers from Charlotte, Pineville, Cabarrus County and Greenville County, South Carolina, all executed search warrants in their respective jurisdictions.
According to CMPD, the operation revealed that Vanderburg and Taylor were a part of an organized theft ring, and four other people were arrested.
The authorities seized about $82,000 in cash, new tools valued at about $50,000, and three vehicles.
Four of the suspects were arrested and held under secure bonds in the Cabarrus County Detention Center. One was arrested and processed in Gaston County, and another was arrested and processed in Greenville County.
The police said such cases often lead to repeat offenders.
“I’m all about giving second chances to people, but after 87 times, that becomes a career criminal,”Finocchio said. “How are they out still victimizing individuals and the retailers and all the other crimes that are occurring?”
Police warned residents that shoplifters are becoming more aggressive and not to intervene but instead call 911 and try to take photos or video.
The arrested suspects were:
Steven Vanderburg, 33, charged with 2 counts of organized retail theft, continuing a criminal enterprise, 12 counts of obtaining property by false pretense, and misdemeanor possession of stolen goods
Cheri Danielle Taylor, 28, charged with 2 counts of organized retail theft
Emilio Reyes Sanchez, 41, charged with one count of organized retail theft
Cesar Calixto-Navarro, 38, charged with one count of organized retail theft
Dhruv Desai, 37, charged with one count of organized retail theft
Amy McMahan, 47, charged with one count of organized retail theft