|Updated: 6/07/2012 9:29 am
||Published: 6/06/2012 9:33 pm
Two million dollars in sales taxes are stolen from Tulsa taxpayers each year.
Serial shoplifters are hitting stories across Green Country and traveling to Oklahoma City, Arkansas, Texas and Kansas to steal or sell their items.
Officers from the Arlington Texas Police Department are in Tulsa to learn how TPD’s Organized Retail Crime Unit busts organized shoplifters.
The Tulsa Police Department ORC Unit reports up to 80 retail gangs are working in Tulsa.
"We have a number of groups that we have identified in Tulsa. Probably 60 to 80 groups,” said ORC Unit Detective Lori Visser.
The groups travel to Oklahoma City and across state lines to Dallas, Arkansas and Kansas.
This week the National Retail Federation reports Organized Retail Crime is the highest it has ever been in the country. Nine in ten retailers are reporting they have been a victim of crime in the last year.
One of the targeted items is Tide laundry detergent.
At Walgreens at 15th and S. Lewis on aisle 5 the Tide laundry detergent is under lock and key.
"They are going to lock up Tide for real?" Said shopper Myia Cole.
This is not an urban legend.
“I would avoid anything locked up because it would take more time to get it out,” said shopper Nina Sage.
Thieves are soiling the name and swiping it from shelves. Surveillance video has caught thieves pushing cartloads of the orange bottle worth thousands of dollars in one swoop.
“I am totally baffled by it, this is the first I have heard of it,” said Sage.
FOX23 News checked other Walgreens and drug stores in Tulsa and saw Tide on the shelves.
Kmart had theft protection devices on the larger Tide gallons of Tide.
Investigators with the Tulsa Police Organized Retail Crime Unit report these serial shoplifters also known as boosters are selling it at flea markets, pawn shops and online classified ads.
They are also taking orders from mom and pop shops and families who can’t afford the higher prices and fencing Tide and other stolen items.
The National Retail Federation Reports this year targeted items are jeans, Kitchen Aide mixers, educational toys and games, GPS units and laundry detergent. They also report thieves are targeting high-end vacuums.
Tulsa police meet with local retailers each month to share information but they often talk throughout the month on suspects and trends.
"We are not talking about someone coming in and taking two CD's. We are talking about people who in the larger sense are making a living off this,” said Jamie Bourne, Target.
Boosters are making at least $1,000 to $2,000 or more a day.
"People should never take anything. I know I can buy everything I need,” said shopper Clyde Jackson.
Walgreens and Tide (Proctor & Gamble) did not return calls made by FOX23 News.
Oklahoma does not have an organized retail crime statute. However, caught stealing anything over $500 it’s a felony.
NRF reports violence among organized retail gangs increased 15% when apprehending the suspects.
Tulsa Police recently arrested Rhonda Burkett of Hot Springs, Arkansas, for passing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent checks at local retailers.