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Arson investigation after home raided in shoplifting scheme

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Updated: 12/27/2011 10:25 pm Published: 12/27/2011 11:55 am

A convicted serial shoplifter has been busted again and this time with thousands of dollars in stolen items.

Investigators say it’s all connected to an arson fire that happened Tuesday morning around 3:00 a.m. in the 6800 block of E. 83rd Street.

Last week police busted a trio of suspected shoplifters and found thousands of dollars in stolen stuff in that home.

Shannon Porter, 26, also known to go by Shannon Phillips, Shanterrious Phillips, 28, and Kejuan Barnette, were arrested on December 22nd after police served a search warrant on two separate buildings

Police say these suspected shoplifters are organized costing millions of shoppers and stores every year.  

Tulsa Police detectives in the Riverside Division are in their third of four weeks in a temporary Organized Retail Crime Task Force.

During the task force convicted thief Shannon Porter is accused of swiping a $36,000 ring from Sam’s Club and a $100,000 in stolen stuff.

Detectives say Porter is no stranger to retail crime.

"It was our understanding certain retailers saw her boosting almost immediately after getting out of DOC,” says Detective Lori Visser.

So employees alerted police.

"This is a way of life for these particular people,” says Visser.

Police say she and her crew along with three dozen other serial shoplifters are known as “boosters” and are making a thousand dollars a day.

Some are known to steal to support a drug addiction.

Thieves are caught on surveillance cameras pocketing items. Some are seen stealing cart loads of household items such as Tide detergent, cases of Five-hour Energy and electronics.

Police say they’ll sell them on the street, flea markets or online.

"They'll do whatever they can do get away to keep from going to jail,” says Visser.

Some shoplifters are escalating to violence and when clerks confront them some thieves are pulling knives and guns and punching the clerks.

"I never thought as an average consumer. I never thought about going into a store and seeing someone do that. I think I will keep an eye out and check it out,” says shopper Adam Barzellone.

Police say these shoplifters are bigger than petit larcenies. They are costing Tulsa shoppers $25 million to $35 million in sales tax revenues.

"It makes me angry to tell you the truth,” says shopper Crystal Kames.

The task force has learned a few of their tricks.

"Often times they'll park in handicap spaces. Where it is a quick getaway,” says Visser.

Police also say to get past security sensor boosters will use bags lined with foil or they’ll line the bags with foil themselves.

Detectives say they often work in pairs where one will distract a clerk while the other loads up on loot.

"We are trying our best to make a living and with people like that you can't make hardly a living,” says shopper Karen Rhodes.

Detectives are working with the FBI as well. Investigators say the boosters will travel to Texas, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas to steal items from stores.

If you suspect someone is stealing inside a store, police recommend that you do not confront them but report them to security.

The retailers involved in the task force and contacted for this story did not want to comment.

TPD’s task force is temporary but they hope by to create permanent Organized Retail Crime Unit like the one in the Dallas Police Department.

An alert neighbor captured a picture on a cell phone of the suspect vehicle involved in the arson.

Fire investigators are looking for four to five men wearing hoodies riding in a dark colored or black four-door Cadillac.

They believe it has been seen in the neighborhood where the arson happened near 83rd and Sheridan.

If you have any information call the Arson line at (918) 596-ARSN. Remember you do not have give your name and the Crime Commission pays a reward if the tip leads to a conviction.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Mar Cus - 12/28/2011 9:33 AM
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Shakes, no need for negativity. Abbie, thanks for the update.

Shakes73 - 12/28/2011 7:28 AM
0 Votes
Thanks Fox23 for telling everyone how to get past the scanners at the doors of stores with the tin foil.Good job! Does any1 there check the spelling of what is on the screen for public viewing?? I see things that are miss spelled all the time. And why does the same news get reported like over and over and over several times within an hour or 2?? News is slow?? And whats with the equipment troubles ALL the time?? Time for some upgrades?? Theres always something that screws up during the news cast. I wish I could work there then I can have hours like Michelle Linn. Does she work when she wants?? Thats my kinda job. I think it's time to find a different news channel to watch in the a.m. Fox23 has gone to crap.
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