Authorities bust multimillion-dollar shoplifting ring targeting NJ, NY shops

Posted: Updated:
JERSEY CITY -

The Jersey City Police Department has busted a multimillion-dollar shoplifting ring that was allegedly operated out of the city.

Police say that Jersey City resident Stephan Williams ran the lucrative operation that targeted drug store chains and Ulta Beauty. A crew of shoplifters allegedly working for Williams would go to stores in groups of five to seven people and were instructed to steal such items as over-the-counter medication, vitamins and cosmetics.

“This actually came as a result of a large amount of shoplifting incidents that were happening in Bayonne,” says Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly.

Investigators say that the thieves targeted stores in at least a dozen towns in New Jersey. They say that Williams also operated an online store selling the stolen items and also allegedly sold items at the Pride of Jersey store on MLK Boulevard in Jersey City.

The shoplifters were allegedly able to get away with many items by grabbing the largest gift bags off the store shelves, filling those bags with items and then walking out. Officials say that many of the stores have a “no conflict” policy, allowing the thieves to simply walk out without anyone stopping them.

Police say that Williams paid the shoplifters based on what they stole. They say that some of the shoplifters made over $600 a day.

The crew also targeted stores in Suffolk County, New York, and other parts of New York City, according to officials. The alleged scheme took in so much money that police say the organization had a person in charge of finance. He is among the 11 people charged.

Police say they are investigating at least 10 additional people who may have participated in the theft ring.

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