MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida has become a mecca for shoplifting. So much so that federal and local law enforcement agencies have joined forces to deal with organized retail crime.

On Tuesday members of the task force showed off thousands of dollars in recovered goods. They said shoplifting has become a structured, big business for organized crime.

“We have seen instances where rings drop off individuals at various stores, transport them from store to store to store, where they steal merchandise which is collected at the end of the day. It is then passed off to a ‘fence’ to be resold,” said Special Agent Alysa Erichs with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations.

But where’s the market for boosted household items like over-the-counter drugs, cosmetics and razor blades?

“Well you can bring that back to the store to get a refund and even get a gift card for that and cash in the money from the gift card,” said Doral police chief Richard Blom. “There’s a lot of different ways to do it.”

Other rings take the stolen goods and move them out of the country where they are sold on the black market for pennies on the dollar.

The losses are passed on in higher prices which costs the average consumer $500 a year.

In Florida alone, the state loses an estimated $150 million in sales tax to shoplifting.


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