Police arrested four people Sunday suspected of running a massive shoplifting ring and reselling items at local flea markets. Officers gave NBC 5 exclusive access, while they raided homes in Dallas and uncovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen goods.
Dallas and Denton police closed in on three homes Sunday morning -- two on Abilene Street -- after a month-long investigation. Denton Detective Erin Haislett and loss prevention investigators from several DFW retailers uncovered $300,000 worth of stolen goods from one home alone.
Police photos inside the house show bags of merchandise stacked high and filling several rooms.
"We're not going to take this anymore," said Haislett. "These are high-dollar items -- real expensive Oil of Olay, Aeropostale clothing."
Police say the suspects stole items an entire family could use -- shampoo, diapers, laundry detergent, and literally a treasure chest full of panty hose -- stolen from stores including Dollar General, Tom Thumb, The Gap, and The Children's Place. Price tags were still attached, and the items were accumulated over four years.
"It's a huge victory for us today," said Kelly Moye, regional loss prevention investigator for Dollar General. "They're exactly like a mini-retailer. We feel like we're at war."
Police say the family in the home at 4134 Abilene Street, as well as the house next door, bought the merchandise from the actual shoplifters and have been re-selling them at flea markets like Traders Village.
Retailers are spending more money on security, like tracking devices to recover stolen products, and they say it's ultimately hurting the customer.
"It all costs us in the long run -- higher prices, lost sales tax revenue for the cities," said Moye.
Despite the enormity of this organized retail theft operation, investigators say it's only a tiny fraction of what's going on in North Texas.
Police say you can help spot stolen merchandise. If you find products at a flea market that are cheaper than what you would pay at any legitimate retailer, they're most likely stolen goods.