California busts retail theft ringleader behind $8mil beauty product haul

The ringleader ran her scheme in nearly two dozen counties.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced charges on Friday against the ringleader of an organized retail crime scheme that involved $8 million worth of beauty products. 

The ringleader, a woman who Bonta did not identify, conducted the scheme in 21 counties across the state. 


The big picture: Bonta said the woman paid at least seven people to steal from Ulta Beauty stores, as well as other stores, and then would sell the stolen items on her Amazon storefront. 

  • She sold the goods online for a fraction of the retail price and recruited young women to enter the stores and commit bulk thefts of specific high-demand makeup products to keep her online inventory stock in supply. 
  • The suspects were caught on camera and have been charged as well. 
  • The state recovered around $400,000 in product, but the overall loss from the multi-year operation is over $7.8 million. 
  • Thefts occurred in Alameda, Placer, Kern, Contra Costa, Orange, Los Angeles, Santa Clara, San Diego, Sacramento, San Mateo, Solano, Riverside, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Napa, Marin, Tulare, San Bernardino, Sonoma, Ventura and Yolo Counties. 

What they’re saying: “Organized retail crime has significant financial and safety implications for businesses, retailers, and consumers,” Bonta said. “Today, we are addressing an audacious instance of organized retail theft and making it clear that such criminal activity will not be accepted in California. As the leading law enforcement official in our state, my dedication lies in actively pursuing and bringing to justice those who violate the law. Ending crime is a team effort.“

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