Local News

Johnston Traffic Stop Puts End To Shoplifting Ring

Posted June 20, 2003

— Authorities in Johnston County think they broke up a shoplifting ring that targeted the whole East coast, but so far authorities do not have anyone behind bars.

Sheriff Steve Bizzell believes $45,000 worth of clothes that is now at the evidence room of the sheriff's office was stolen from stores like The Gap and The Disney Store.

"I couldn't believe the number of items and the clothing. It was jeans and tops and shirts and shorts," he said.

A deputy found the items after he searched a van he pulled over on Interstate 95 for following too closely.

"The driver of the van was real nervous and acted like he had something to hide," Bizzell said.

Authorities said the van also had tools to remove devices stores use to prevent shoplifting.

Bizzell said some of the clothes still had magnetic sensors on them. Officials believe the thieves probably used shopping bags lined with aluminum foil that prevent the sensors from activating.

The Sheriff's Office believes some of the stolen clothes came from an outlet mall in Smithfield, but the suspects had other plans to go to stores along the East coast, including malls in the Triangle.

Authorities say there were three people in the van, but Bizzell said he had to let all of them go. He said they have to have a police report indicating items are stolen before they can arrest the people. Some of the clothes have already been returned to stores.


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