Police Thwart Seasonal Shopping Swindlers

Fairfax County Police Retail Anti-Theft Teams (RATT)  are once again targeting phony credit cards, stolen identifications

Apple iPhones stolen by thieves in 2010 holiday shopping scams

and out-of-state shoplifting scammers this holiday season.

In an annual effort that began “Black Friday,” RATT officers are patrolling the malls and shopping centers across Fairfax County hoping to keep the areas safe and crime-free.

Busted scam

One arrest so far this season involves a 41-year-old man who approached a high-end jeweler in Tyson’s Corner Mall to purchase a $10,000 watch on November 19.

An alert sales clerk noticed a discrepancy in the “customers” paperwork and conducted a quick search. She saw that the man was on the Prince Georges County Police Top Ten list of Wanted Felons where he was described as “violent.” She stalled him as police officers approached the store.

The suspect fled, but was quickly apprehended by mall security and RATT officers. The man was taken into custody and police discovered over $20,000 worth of merchandise he had purchased allegedly using stolen credit cards from Maryland and Virginia.

On the job

Teams of Fairfax County officers are working in shopping malls and retail businesses in both uniformed and plain-clothes capacities. They are targeting all shoplifters but particularly the “professionals” that distract store employees while associates across the store attempt to conceal and steal merchandise.

Last year, officers assigned to the retail theft operations made significant arrests, charging suspects with fraud, forgery, embezzlement, possession of stolen property, distribution of narcotics and more.

In the Fair Oaks Police District, 41 adults and 23 juveniles were charged with 182 felony and misdemeanor offenses. In the McLean Police District, there were a total of 115 people charged with 152 offenses; and $196,386. worth of stolen merchandise was recovered.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS/8477, e-mail, by texting “TIP187” plus your message to CRIMES/274637 or call Fairfax County Police at 703-691-2131.