Police have charged three people and seized stolen goods, including baby formula, valued at more than $175,000 following an investigation into shoplifting offences across Sydney.
Working under Operation Lightfingers, investigators from Redfern Region Enforcement Squad (RES) began investigating and targeting the large-scale theft of baby formula from supermarkets and independent grocers across Sydney in October 2019.
Following extensive investigations, Operation Lightfingers detectives – with assistance from Bass Hill RES – executed four search warrants at two businesses at Bankstown, a warehouse at Milperra, and a home in Condell Park, just after 4pm yesterday (Wednesday 20 November 2019).
During the searches, officers seized more than $55,000 cash, and stolen goods, including baby formula, cosmetics and groceries, with a total value of more than $175,000.
A short time later, detectives arrested a 28-year-old man and two women – aged 26 and 53 – at a carpark on Canterbury Road, Bankstown. All three were taken to Bankstown Police Station.
Following further inquiries, a fifth search warrant was executed at a motel room at Liverpool earlier today (Thursday 21 November 2019), where officers seized a ‘gel blaster’ firearm, a baton and steroids.
The man and younger woman were both charged with 15 counts of larceny, and six counts of dispose property-theft (serious indictable offence).
Police will allege in court that the pair stole baby formula and electric toothbrushes worth more than $10,000 from supermarkets and retail stores across Sydney on 21 separate occasions.
The older woman was charged with six counts of dispose property-theft (serious indictable offence), knowingly deal with proceeds of crime, and goods suspected stolen in/on premises.
Police will allege in court that the woman was receiving the stolen goods to on-sell for financial benefit.
All three were refused bail to appear at Bankstown Local Court today (Thursday 21 November 2019).
Redfern Region Enforcement Squad Commander, Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Bell, said businesses should remain vigilant, particularly as the festive season approaches.
“Christmas is typically a very busy period in retail with an influx of shoppers, and this can often be seen as an opportunistic time for potential shoplifters to target stores while staff members are busy with customers,” Det Ch Insp Bell said.
“Operation Lightfingers is a proactive and targeted policing strategy which we conduct throughout the year and allows police and retail staff to work together to target possible thieves.
“Today’s results should send a clear message to anyone who thinks they can steal goods without paying for them, that they will be caught, and they will be put before the courts.
“I can assure the community that we are committed to continuing our operations targeting shoplifting and that this sort of criminal behaviour will not be tolerated,” Det Ch Insp Bell said.
Additional charges are expected to be laid.
Police are urging anyone with information about retail theft or fraud offences to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence.