TORRANCE (CBSLA.com) — Torrance police have cracked a nationwide shoplifting ring that reportedly targeted Southland stores selling high-priced technology.
Four Chicago residents, identified as Ausra Bauzinskaite, 34; Adeliya Nassybullina, 30; Lukasz Karasinski, 37; and Przemyslaw Skiba, 31, pleaded not guilty last week to multiple counts of conspiracy to commit commercial burglary and grand theft.
The suspects, who are members of a Polish “gypsy family,” have allegedly admitted to detectives that they are responsible for 17 thefts that netted more than $3 million in stolen electronics and merchandise, KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reported.
A four-month investigation revealed that the organized retail theft ring targeted Apple stores in Manhattan Beach, Pasadena, the San Fernando Valley, and Orange County, as well as Southland Best Buy, Costco, Microsoft and Wal-Mart stores, police said.
The group also allegedly hit stores in Colorado, Florida and Washington.
Detectives identified the theft ring after they were caught on surveillance video in early 2012 committing a crime at an MacMall store in a South Bay shopping center, officials said.
Authorities say the suspects would steal high-priced hard drives by putting the electronics inside the women’s over-sized purses and clothing and mail the stolen property to various locations nationwide.
The two women and two men were arrested on Mar. 7 in Hawthorne.
“Coincidentally, they had flown into the area from Chicago, IL. for a court appearance in Santa Monica stemming from an earlier retail theft arrest,” Sgt. Robert Watt said in a news release.
More than $20,000 worth of stolen Apple products were located at the time of their arrest.
The suspects, who reportedly said they committed the crimes to pay off a $2 million debt their family owed, are being held at the Los Angeles County Jail without bail under a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold.