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Stolen Beauty Products Worth Over $9 Million Seized During Two California Raids

Stolen Beauty Products Worth Over $9 Million Seized During Two California Raids

Retail theft may inspire voters to pass tough-on-crime proposition in upcoming election.

We have been following the scourge of retail theft and crime tourism in California.

Just how big has the problem become? Just in the past few weeks, raids on 2 retail theft rings have led to the recovery of over $9 million in cosmetics.

In San Diego County, one woman has been arrested for her role in leading a nationwide shoplifting ring worth more than $8 million in beauty products.

Federal agents identified Bonsall resident, Michelle Mack as the head of the criminal enterprise.

According to the search warrants, Mack paid as many as 12 people to steal from Ulta Beauty stores, as well as other retail outlets, and ship them to her Bonsall post office box.

In certain cases, Mack allegedly purchased plane tickets, rented cars and paid for hotels for the shoplifters who worked under her.

CBS 8 has learned Ulta Beauty worked with authorities on the investigation into Mack.

“We can confirm that Ulta Beauty partnered with law enforcement on this investigation but cannot share any details at this time as the case is still being processed,” an Ulta Beauty spokesperson said in a statement to CBS 8.

Additionally, Los Angeles woman was recently arrested on suspicion of being part of a Southern California retail theft ring.

The California Highway Patrol charged Brenda Yanez, 48, with organized retail theft, grand theft, and possession of stolen property. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Organized Retail Crime Task Force of the CHP found over $1 million in alleged stolen goods during a raid on a warehouse in the city of Paramount and a business called The Makeup Store on Tuesday.

…According to several local reports, officials linked Yanez to a retail theft ring that has targeted stores like CVS, Sephora, Ulta Beauty, Rite Aid, Nordstrom and 99 Cents Only.

KFSN-TV reported that alongside the alleged stolen merchandise, CHP said they also found “tools used to remove anti-theft devices.”

“CHP investigators will continue to work proactively with our loss prevention partners, allied agencies, and prosecutors through the holidays to combat organized retail crime throughout California,” CHP said in a press release sent to KFSN-TV.

The problem of organized crime is so significant that large retail firms will organize another state-wide campaign to reimpose California’s tough-on-crime laws.

Next year voters could have the chance to reconsider one of criminal-justice advocates’ biggest accomplishments: a 2014 ballot initiative that downgraded drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Law enforcement officials are once again leading the push in this deep blue state to restore the penalties despite voters decisively rejecting a similar ballot measure in 2020.

Now those same law-enforcement officials are finding interest from potential new allies. Walmart has funneled $500,000 to the ballot initiative and a legislative leader has launched a committee that will examine retail crime and possibly ask voters to amend the law.

“This isn’t an abstraction anymore. This is something people see and experience,” said Daniel Conway of the California Grocers Association, which represents major companies like Costco and Safeway and is again calling for tougher laws after backing the unsuccessful 2020 measure. “People see folks pushing shopping carts out. They see people taking things, or they see security guards in front of their local grocery store.”

Hopefully, the next crime-control proposition offered up will be passed by California voters. However, life would be so much easier for Golden State residents if they voted for tough-on-crime politicians and district attorneys in the first place.


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UnCivilServant | January 5, 2024 at 8:07 am

I’m more amazed that anyone still tries to sell product in a state where theft has been decriminalized.

“Next year voters could have the chance to reconsider one of criminal-justice advocates’ biggest accomplishments: a 2014 ballot initiative that downgraded drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors”

Ain’t nuthin gonna happen

I’m old enough to remember when criminals using the postal service in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy would be the subjects of massive federal law enforcement investigations that would often result in lifetime sentence…just ask Al Capone. There are likely scores of federal statutes that could be charged here. Where are the Feds?

The Gentle Grizzly | January 5, 2024 at 9:01 am

Gads. I remember when my mom and step-dad retired to Bonsall. It was quiet, low-crime except for the more impulse-conrtrol-deprived USMCs nearby, and lots and lots of ten-acre Martini farms.

    UnCivilServant in reply to The Gentle Grizzly. | January 5, 2024 at 9:16 am

    What kinds of conditions do you need to raise Martini?

      The Gentle Grizzly in reply to UnCivilServant. | January 5, 2024 at 10:04 am

      A “Martini farm” in this context is ten acres of property on which well-offs, mostly whites, retire, and the acreage not taken by the house is full of lemon or avocado trees. Dad stirs up a pitcher of martinis or some other mixed drink. He joins his wife out on a deck overlooking the grove. They drink the drinks while watching the illegal migrants harvest their crops. Usually, these people would not know an irrigation sprinkler from.a pressure regulator, but are very proud of their “ranch”. The illegals are not their employees; they work for a grove service they hire to do the work, thus insulating them from any legal issues. Generally, these martini farms lost just enough to have income tax advantages each year.

      My mother and step-dad had one of these, but, my strep-dd got so “into” the place that he did his own mowing, irrigation maintenance, and other tasks his neighbors would never stoop to doing. He even made money on the place all but a couple of years.

Another ballot initiative changing the definition of shoplifting won’t change the big picture. Now they steal car, ram it through front doors at 3am, and ransack the store with dozens of looters. They can clean out the store in less than 5 minutes, while it might take police 1 hour to arrive. CA is witnessing the collapse of its cities into 3rd world ghettos overnight. It is irreversible under dem super majority one party rule.

Great. We arrested a person organizing the shoplifting of an Ulta store.

Now do fentanyl…

Gang activity is closely linked to vagrants. They use them to collect change at intersections and perform heinous activity, most of which is shoplifting.
If America does not close the borders and manage vagrancy we will soon be strangers in our homeland.

What does $9M of beauty look like?
That’s way more than enough to start another Trojan War.
The modern equivalent might be collapsing OnlyFans into a gravitational black hole.
I’m gonna apply for a grant to study the nexus between armed conflict and hot Ukrainian babes. Swalwell, can you hook a brother up?

BierceAmbrose | January 5, 2024 at 3:28 pm

Today seeking Clorox brand spray cleaner, I discovered that household cleaning supplies are now behind Plexiglas at my local Walgreens.

Of course the goblin alt economy is going after retail packaged “beauty products” assembling inventories like in the story above. They have all the properties of a good currency: Durable, Value Dense, Self-Verifying, Small-grained / Divisible, Inert. Ready “market.”

Its the same reason Tide Pods and Gatorade become de facto currencies between entertainment payments. Or cigarettes in prisons.

My spray cleaner is behind Plexiglas now because anything in recognizable retail packaging has become a currency. The fun is just starting. Wait until real hyper-inflation hits.

The criminal-coddling Dhimmi-crats love the ideology of “Submission” so much — they shouldn’t mind if we take a page from Islamic jurisprudence and start cutting off thieves’ hands.

BierceAmbrose | January 5, 2024 at 4:18 pm

Related observation: Yesterday seeking the same spray cleaner I stopped in a local convenience store with aisles packed with merch, none behind Plexiglas.

Their sense of inventory security might have to do with the choke point at the door lined with cafeteria tables, and 6+ guys working stoves and serving up hot items, mostly fried.

I remember times and places where nobody locked their doors. You wanna live easier? Maybe it nets out better stopping theft vs. allowing it. Meanwhile, maybe systems allowing theft are about making living harder, more than metering enforcement, or even some “claimed justice: for the needy thieves.

    henrybowman in reply to BierceAmbrose. | January 7, 2024 at 3:09 am

    I knew America was headed to Hell when they started locking up spray paint… instead of the goblins abusing spray paint.
    Gun control writ small.