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California Attorney General announces charges against local resident

SAN DIEGO – California Attorney General Rob Bonta, on Feb. 16, announced charges against the alleged ringleader of an organized retail crime scheme that spanned 21 counties and involved an estimated $8 million worth of beauty products, as well as multiple members of her organized retail crime ring.

The investigation was conducted by the California Department of Justice (DOJ), California Highway Patrol (CHP), Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Postal Inspection Service along with Ulta’s Loss Prevention Organized Retail Crime team and Sephora Representatives.

It is alleged that the ringleader of the scheme paid more than seven people to steal from Ulta Beauty stores, as well as other retail outlets. The ringleader, Michelle Mack of Bonsall, then would allegedly sell the stolen cosmetic items on her Amazon storefront.

“Organized retail crime has significant financial and safety implications for businesses, retailers, and consumers,” said Bonta. “Today, we are addressing an audacious instance of organized retail theft and making it clear that such criminal activity will not be accepted in California. As the leading law enforcement official in our state, my dedication lies in actively pursuing and bringing to justice those who violate the law. Ending crime is a team effort.“

“The strong partnership that exists between law enforcement, prosecutors, and retailers is not just crucial – it’s the foundation in the fight against organized retail crime,” said California Highway Patrol Commissioner Sean Duryee. “The CHP’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force frequently collaborates with all stakeholders to identify solutions for reducing organized retail theft, identifying current trends, sharing best practices, and share actionable intelligence. This case is the perfect example of collaboration resulting in justice.”

“Ulta Beauty is proud to partner with the California Department of Justice and Attorney General’s Office on this investigation, and we are grateful for their commitment to this important issue,” said Dan Petrousek, Senior Vice President of Loss Prevention at Ulta Beauty. “The rise in organized retail crime affects all retailers, consumers, and communities, and we believe it’s important to take action to deter the criminals perpetuating this problem. Not only does organized retail crime jeopardize the safety of our store associates and guests, but it also results in potentially unsafe or damaged products being resold online to consumers under false pretenses. We will continue to work closely with authorities to decrease the occurrence of retail theft that not only affects our stores but retailers nationwide.”

It is alleged that the ringleader sold the stolen goods on her online Amazon storefront for a fraction of the retail price and recruited many young women to enter makeup stores and commit bulk thefts of specific high-demand makeup products to supply her with inventory for her online store.

The suspects responsible for these thefts were caught on surveillance and have been charged in this case as well. Upon a search of the ringleader’s residence, large amounts of makeup product was found stored, organized, and prepped for shipping, still in its manufacturer packaging.

Retailers from Ulta and Sephora assisted in conducting inventory of an estimated $400,000 in recovered product during the recent searches of residences. Nationwide loss due to this multi-year theft operation is estimated at over $7.8 million. The charges, brought by the California Department of Justice, include Organized Retail Theft, Conspiracy, Receipt of Stolen Property, and multiple counts of Grand Theft.

The thefts occurred in Alameda, Placer, Kern, Contra Costa, Orange, Los Angeles, Santa Clara, San Diego, Sacramento, San Mateo, Solano, Riverside, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Napa, Marin, Tulare, San Bernardino, Sonoma, Ventura, and Yolo counties.

 

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