Orange County Breeze
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February 20, 2013

Seal Beach police officer honored for work leading to arrest of broker of stolen merchandise

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Seal Beach Police Department SUV

The following information was released by Seal Beach Police Department.

Seal Beach Police Corporal Dave Barr is being honored as the Los Angeles Area Organized Retail Crime Association (LAAORCA) as the Law Enforcement Officer of the year on February 21, 2013 at the LAAORCA Annual Convention, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The recognition stems from a case that Corporal Barr investigated while working as a detective.

The case included the identification and arrest of a broker of stolen merchandise, who was notorious amongst the investigators who specialize in Organized Retail Crime (ORC). A neighboring police agency’s arrest led to an interview where Detective Barr learned of the connection between two (2) professional shoplifters, commonly referred to as “boosters,” and the broker, commonly referred to as a “fence.”

Both Los Angeles and Orange Counties have been plagued by booster crews who are organized and efficient. They enter grocery and drug stores and quickly identify the high value items. They remove that merchandise and flee with the loot. Commonly stolen items are teeth whitening strips, razor blades, and over the counter medication.

Detective Barr formed a partnership between the Seal Beach Police Department, police agencies in other jurisdictions that were investigating similar crimes, and a network of asset protection investigators representing various retailers. The joint investigation led to the surveillance of numerous storage units, private residences, and swap meets. Undercover operatives bought stolen merchandise at radical discounts, with the original store anti-theft tags still intact.

The work performed by the private and law enforcement investigators resulted in several search warrants being served. The warrants netted over 100,000 suspected stolen items, valued in excess of $1.2 million. The suspect is believed to generate about $250K annually in the sales of stolen items. She has been in business for about 10 years. The case has been referred to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office for prosecution.

A survey by the National Retail Federation estimates that national losses to ORC are $15-30 million annually. The greater Los Angeles area has been identified as a one of the top 10 areas for ORC in the country.

Featured photo

File photo by C.E.H. Wiedel of a Seal Beach Police Department vehicle.

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