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CHP Organized Retail Crime Task Force makes arrest and recovers over $300,000 in stolen merchandise

California Highway Patrol investigators assigned to Border Division’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force (ORCTF) last week arrested a female suspect for committing several high-end retail thefts and possessing stolen merchandise. On several occasions, Ekatarina Zharkova, 38, of Costa Mesa, was observed by CHP investigators stealing from multiple retailers throughout Southern California. The stolen items included high-end retail goods such as Gucci, Prada, Ramy Brook, Dodo Bar, or Jimmy Choo. Zharkova used tools to disable security sensor devices before exiting the stores with thousands of dollars in stolen merchandise, which were stored at her home in Costa Mesa prior to selling them via online marketplaces.

During the investigation, CHP Border Division ORCTF members followed Zharkova from her home to the Metro Pointe at South Coast shopping center in Costa Mesa. Investigators watched her enter a Nordstrom Rack store where she was observed filling a shopping cart with high-end items. She placed a coat over the shopping cart to cover the merchandise, and then used a sensor defeating device to remove security sensors before exiting the store with over $3,500 of stolen merchandise. Zharkova returned to her car where she was immediately arrested. CHP investigators served a search warrant at Zharkova’s residence and discovered stolen merchandise packed wall to wall in every room. All the merchandise was located with the store tags still in place and several of the items had the disabled security sensors still affixed. Retail industry representatives worked with CHP investigators to inventory the stolen merchandise.

The CHP recovered 2,333 stolen items worth $328,683. Zharkova was booked into the Orange County Jail for violating section 487 of the California Penal Code – Grand Theft. The case will be presented to the Orange County District Attorney’s office for review. The investigation is ongoing to identify any additional victims and locations where the stolen merchandise was sold.

The ORCTF’s efforts are consistent with the CHP’s mission to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security to the people of California and are in line with the CHP strategic goal to protect life and property.

Organized retail theft incidents may be reported to CHP online at:
https://www.chp.ca.gov/notify-chp/organized-retail-theft-program

This article was released by the California Highway Patrol.