Gulfport Police Bust An Alleged Shoplifting Ring - - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport Police Bust An Alleged Shoplifting Ring

GULFPORT (WLOX) - This cash of clothing and other stolen goods come from a who's who of stores throughout the region.

"There's probably at least 3 different types of theft detection devices located on the clothing," says Detective Stephen Carlson as he sorts through a bin of stolen clothing.

Yet investigators say these suspects were able to get these items out of stores mostly undetected.

It wasn't until 24-year-old Marquita Antionette Carr and 17-year-old Samantha Denise Summitt, both of Gulfport, were identified as shoplifting suspects at a local outlet mall that police got the break they needed to uncover what they call a large and long running operation.  

"With the officers responding in a local area, we we're able to take two suspects into custody," says Carlson. "And the investigation revealed the rest."

The arrests of Carr and Summitt were only the beginning. Investigators went on to raid two separate storehouses of stolen merchandise in the city and arrest more suspects.  

"A total of seven people have been arrested," says Police Chief Alan Weatherford. "As you can see today (Thursday), 30 thousand dollars of merchandise has been recovered from 32 stores across 2 states.

Gulfport Police Chief Alan Weatherford believes this network of shoplifters is still operating in the area, and he expects more arrests.

The ring is also the reason Weatherford recently launched the undercover Cop Shop Program in Gulfport, to catch shoplifters in the act. He says this bust is a direct result of that program.  

"Shopping for shoplifters is what we're doing," says Weatherford. "And not just that, some of it may be employee theft as well. So we're going to go in there and make those arrests."  

by Don Culpepper

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