DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – CBS 11 News had exclusive access to raids across Dallas County Wednesday as law enforcement agencies executed ‘Operation No Return’.
The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office apprehended 14 people accused of operating an organized crime ring involving gift cards and stolen retail clothing.
During the raids, at apartments and houses across Dallas, authorities netted 14 of the 17 people indicted for organized crime, theft and other charges.
The yearlong investigation resulted in the shutdown of what authorities called a “major and sophisticated” retail theft ring.
According to authorities, shoplifters would take bags of their own clothes into store dressing rooms and removed security devices from new clothes.
During a press conference Tony Robinson, the Chief Investigator at the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, explained more about Operation No Return.
“One person would provide the transportation, she would wait out in the car while one individual went out and actually stole the merchandise,” explained Robinson. “She [shoplifter] would leave the store, get back in the car, they’d drive to another retailer and the person that was driving would get out and go exchange the merchandise.”
Authorities said the thieves would accept gift certificates for the stolen merchandise they returned to retailers.
“They would get gift cards and they would sell these particular gift cards on eBay, Craigslist, and they would even advertise the gift cards on their Facebook pages,” said Robinson.
Investigators believe the suspects got away with hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise, before they were caught – leaving retailers and customers to absorb the loss.
“To take this kind of loss, we’re talking in excess of $400,000 that we know of, it’s a major impact on a corporations bottom line,” Robinson said.
Officials say Operation No Return is ongoing and more arrests are expected in the coming weeks.
Those arrested face charges including Engaging in Organized Crime, punishable by two to 10 years in jail and a fine up to $10,000 and Fraudulent Use/Possession of Identifying Information, punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.