Posted on April 2, 2012 at 4:19 PM
Monday, Apr 2 at 4:54 PM
AUSTIN -- It read like a shopping list of ordinary household items, but on a giant scale. Austin Police Department investigators believe an international theft ring from Austin to Mexico has been going on for more than a year. Now they're looking for one more person to complete what they call a "ring" of thefts stemming from South Austin.
Detectives estimate the thieves got away with more than $50,000 worth of stolen goods including razors, shampoo, lotions, and makeup. They arrested arrested seven people and say the ring leader is 40-year-old Maria Villegas.
"We later found out she was selling this stolen property from various flea markets in the South Austin area," said APD Officer Dustin Smart.
Officer Smart says his unit led the bust on a ring of thieves operating in South Austin. They're accused of stealing from places including Target and HEB with the goal of smuggling the goods into Mexico.
"The others are people she's basically paying to go and commit these thefts for her," said Smart.
APD started the sting about a month-and-a-half ago.
Police in other parts of the country are seeing similar crimes involving massive quantities of shoplifted household goods being resold at flea markets and online. If you have any information, please call Crime Stoppers at 472-TIPS.