After a four-month surveillance operation, four members of a Polish “gypsy family" from Chicago were arrested for running a nationwide operation that stole $3 million worth of electronic items from major stores.
Ausra Bauzinskaite, 34, Adeliya Nassybullina, 30, Lukasz Karasinski, 37, and Przemyslaw Skiba, 31, were arrested on March 7.
The two men and two women targeted Apple, Microsoft, Best Buy, Costco, PetSmart, Sam’s Club, Sports Authority and Walmart outlets in Southern California, Colorado, Florida and Washington.
Police say that the foursome have ben carrying out thefts on a daily basis since 2009. They would walk into a store and then create a human shield around whoever was going to steal the item(s) to block them from security cameras. After the wall was in place, the thief would slip the goods under a plus-size jacket or dress. The stolen items would then be mailed back to Chicago and fenced for cash, according to The Daily News.
The four, all of whom pleaded not guilty at their arraignment last week, face multiple counts of conspiracy to commit commercial burglary and grand theft. They are being held at the Los Angeles County Jail without bail. Torrance, Calif., Police Sgt. Robert Watt said: "They've been across the country in several states, and I'm sure the total amount stolen is even higher. This is just what we know of.” Watt said that the four "described themselves as gypsies from Poland" and said that they were trying to pay off a relative's $2 million debt.
“Upon identifying and tracking these individuals, Torrance investigators determined that the group was an organized retail theft ring that had victimized stores throughout the country in the states of California, Colorado, Washington and Florida,” according to a statement released by the police department.