Two Niagara area women are alleged to have operated a retail theft and resale ring that targeted stores across the Greater Toronto Area.
With assistance from Niagara Regional Police, 22 Division officers executed search warrants on two homes and two vehicles in Niagara region on November 14.
A large quantity of stolen merchandise with an estimated retail price of $200,000 was seized.
Donna Decloux, 54, and Amanda Lair, 31, of Niagara Region, have been charged with several counts of theft over $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000.
They are scheduled to make court appearances on January 26, 2021.
Police are alleging that the accused stole items from shopping malls throughout the Greater Toronto Area, including Vaughan Mills in York Region, Oshawa Centre in Durham Region, Fairview Mall and Sherway Gardens in Toronto and Limeridge Mall in Hamilton.
“We have been having ongoing issues with a shoplifting ring, not only in 22 Division, but throughout the Greater GTA,” said Inspector Tim Crone. “Within 22 Division, Sherway Gardens is the mall that gets targeted the most. Within that mall are several high-end stores, so it’s a prime target for a lot of organized shoplifting rings.”
22 Division Community Response Unit (CRU) officers have a close working relationship with Sherway Gardens Loss Prevention and Security.
“We came up with a plan to identify the suspects who are involved,” said Crone. “We were able to trace them to residences in Niagara region. From previous experience working on investigations like this, we know how this operation works and what they do with the property.”
It’s alleged that the accused transported the stolen merchandise to two separate addresses in Niagara Region where the products were sold locally using a Facebook Buy and Sell page called ‘Niagara Region Steals and Deals.’
Crone said his officers executed a similar operation last year.
“We make the arrests, we make the recovery, we return the property to the rightful retailers and that puts a dent in the operation,” said Crone, noting they continue to monitor for similar groups.
The 22 Division CRU was supported by its Major Crime Unit and a few of its Neighbourhood Officers.
The stolen merchandise included brand-name clothing, jewelry and small appliances.
Const. Julia-Anne Walker wrote the search warrants, alleging those charged worked as a relentless operation.
“Starting in Niagara, they went all day long all the way to Oshawa. They went into a mall, stole products that they brought back to their cars and then continued on to the next location,” said Walker.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-2200 , Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477) or online at222tips.com.