A raid uncovers greater than $1 million value of cosmetics

Responding to a recent surge in retail theft, the California Highway Patrol announced Thursday that it had seized more than $1 million in suspected stolen items and arrested a Los Angeles woman in connection with a Southern California retail theft ring.

The Organized Retail Crime Task Force of the CHP conducted a raid on a warehouse in the city of Paramount and a business called The Makeup Store on Whittier Boulevard in Los Angeles, uncovering more than a million dollars worth of allegedly stolen cosmetics during the operation.

Officers arrested and booked Brenda Yanez, 48, on suspicion of organized retail theft, grand theft and receiving stolen property. Authorities linked her arrest to an organized theft ring targeting multiple Southern California retailers, including CVS, Sephora, Ulta Beauty, Rite Aid, Nordstrom, and 99 Cents Only stores.

A view down a store aisle with boxes stacked at the counter.

In addition to the stolen property, police found tools used to remove anti-theft devices at the raided locations. Several loss prevention investigators from the affected retailers were on the scene, assisting in identifying stolen merchandise.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last month that in response to a spike in retail theft, the CHP task force was “increasing enforcement efforts through proactive and confidential law enforcement operations with allied agencies through the holidays.” In the first 11 months of the year, the governor’s office said the task force had made more than 1,000 arrests, a 109% year-over-year increase.

The surge in theft has prompted many retail businesses, including drug stores, to add extra security measures, such as locking allergy medicine, shaving razors, infant formula and batteries, among other items, behind plexiglass.

Tuesday’s raid came days after the Los Angeles Police Department searched a Westlake storefront and uncovered hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of suspected stolen merchandise. During that search, police discovered hundreds of Apple products connected to burglaries.

The Organized Retail Crime Taskforce of the CHP uncovered more than $1 million in stolen items.

CVS was one of the businesses targeted by the theft ring.

(Californian Highway Patrol)

Other law enforcement agencies have also been cracking down on retail thefts in California.

On the same day as the Whittier Boulevard bust, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office arrested six people in Lake Elsinore on suspicion of various crimes, including burglary and narcotics-related misdemeanor warrants. Addressing a high rate of shoplifting at one retail store, the San Francisco Police Department conducted an operation Tuesday, arresting 18 shoplifting suspects.

This week, a committee of Sacramento lawmakers convened to discuss solutions for fighting shoplifting, with some attributing smash-and-grab thefts to Proposition 47. The ballot measure was approved in 2014 and recategorized several nonviolent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. This included shoplifting, grand theft and receiving stolen property, as long as the property’s value does not surpass $950.

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