Police say the group repeatedly targeted Walmart stores in Vacaville, Fairfield and Suisun, stealing thousands of dollars of merchandise since January.
Angel Morgan and Breanna Thomas were caught red handed in the scheme to knock off the Vacaville Walmart near the city’s outlet stores on Saturday. Vacaville Police had been receiving information about the thieves moving the stolen items in U-Haul trucks. An alert officer spotted a U-Haul in the Walmart parking lot, and became suspicious.
"He ran the plate and it came back stolen, embezzled out,” said Lt. Chris Polen.
Their mode of operation was brazen and simple, according to Polen. Crew members fill carts with items while inside various Walmarts and walk right out the front door.
"We were aware of this crew, we were just trying to find enough evidence to detain them,” said Polen.
They got just that Saturday. When the Vacaville officer made the arrest, Morgan was behind the wheel of the U-Haul which carried $1,200 worth of stolen items.
Thomas, still inside the store, eventually walked out with a cart occupied by her young son, and filled with $200 worth of more stolen merchandise. Polen says normally when these thieves hit stores, they’d hit hard.
"Maybe five, six, seven people were going into various stores three or four times a week. Three times per day,” said Polen.
"Apparently, I looked over, she had a lot of groceries in her cart. Apparently she just walked out the store, and they caught her,” said one shopper, who claims to have seen similar activity in the past at local Walmarts.
It’s unclear if it was the same group of people arrested this week. The shopper says it’s hard to believe this crew's been so successful up until now.
"That's surprising just to hear that,” he said.
"It's unfortunate that a child was present during the time we were making the arrest, especially in front of the child's mother,” said Polen.
Officers bought the child a Happy Meal –their best attempt to keep him calm while his mother sat handcuffed in a patrol car. Officers called Child Protective Services, who police say will likely transfer custody of the child over to another family member.
Police say one person fled scene following Morgan and Thomas’ arrest. They believe a few more people involved with the scam remain at large.