ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. — Organized retail theft is skyrocketing.
The National Retail Federation said nearly 70% of retailers reported an increase in this criminal activity last year.
In a matter of three minutes, investigators said suspects stole more than $17,000 worth of perfume and cologne from an Ulta in Altamonte Springs.
What’s unique about the case is how police caught up with one of the burglars.
According to a police report, “one of the perfume bottles had a GPS tracker concealed in the box.”
John Lippens said one of the suspects ended up in his backyard.
“I immediately get on 911 because I don’t know if it’s someone that could be dangerous,” he said. “Usually it’s bear getting over the fence or we have had raccoons – that type of thing. A person coming over – I never expected.
Zahria Keaton, 24, was arrested.
As of last check, the search continues for the second suspect.
Florida recently formed a task force to help spot theft trends and catch suspects.
“(It) allows us to put together the pieces to identify the larger-scale criminal organizations that are going into our stores and are stealing large amounts of merchandise,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody.
These crimes have become more sophisticated and complex.
The Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail estimates that it costs retailers roughly $45 billion every year.
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