Georgia communities rally against surge in organized retail crime rings

Communities in Georgia have fought back against organized retail crime rings that target major stores for things like snatch-and-run robberies. 

Peachtree City Police say there are crime rings for nearly every major retailer and some businesses even have subsets that target specific products from power tools to perfume. 

Fayette County authorities say they are fighting back against retail crime rings that are driving up crime stats and have the potential to endanger lives in communities like Fayetteville and Peachtree City. 

An example of a ring at work, police say, is the recent theft of thousands of dollars in clothing from a Lululemon store in Peachtree City

Peachtree City Police point to several signs that convince them the women are part of a retail crime ring. For one thing, when they entered the clothing store, police say they concealed extra-large shopping bags that they would later use to carry out big bundles of stolen merchandise. 

Surveillance video of the women shows them stuffing the big bags with armloads of clothes, some still on the hangers. 

Police say big bags and large quantities of stolen goods are hallmarks of a retail crime ring. In this case, the amount stolen was valued at over $3,500. 

Police say an employee of a different store called 911 and recorded the getaway car leaving the shopping center. 

When they were arrested the same day, police determined that the women had also targeted a Dick’s Sporting Goods Store, stealing more than $4,500 worth of merchandise. 

The police have charged the three women with felony shoplifting. Investigators learned 24-year-old Shaquita Thomas and 21-year-old Tamiah Andrews are wanted in other police jurisdictions for similar crimes. Thomas was wanted in Alpharetta. Andrews was wanted in Newton and Cobb counties. 

The third woman, who police say was the driver of the car, was 25-year-old Nautica Smith. Police say she had no active warrants. 

In court, a Fayette County judge denied Thomas and Andrews bond, because police say their criminal pasts are another indicator of organized retail crime. 

Keeping retail crime members locked up, awaiting trial, is one strategy Fayette County is using to slow down the trend.