ROCKFORD, Mich.- State Police are investigating a shoplifting scheme that may have earned a group of suspects as much as $30,000 dollars. Investigators say the group had been driving through several states, stealing from stores and returning some of the stolen items for gift cards and cash.
Trooper Ed Brinkman with the Michigan State Police Rockford post made the discovery last month after pulling the suspects over for various traffic violations.
"We had a couple of simple violations, [like] lane use violations," said Brinkman.
Trooper Brinkman pulled the car over and said he searched the vehicle after smelling marijuana coming from inside.
"We were expecting one thing," he said.
Authorities found a lot more than they expected when they opened the trunk to reveal all kinds of electronics, designer handbags and jeans, some with the security tags still attached.
"We also noticed in the interior of the vehicle, some of the common devices used to take the devices [security tags] off the products," said Brinkman."It was definitely a strange thing to see."
Police say stores in Wisconsin fell victim, as well as shops here in Michigan. Two of the suspects were arrested, but police are still asking for assistance location the third person involved.
Carl Crumpton,30, and Kavaughn Satchel-Young,18, were taken into custody for the alleged crime. Police say they're still searching for the third suspect, Mickey Ruffin, 34, who's from Detroit.
The suspects reportedly used shopping bags and handmade sleeves crafted from duct tape and other materials to steal items from stores.
"Whatever store they were planning on going into they would simply change out the bag put their homemade sleeves in there walk in the store to blend in and take the items, slip them in there and walk out," said Brinkman.
Authorities said the store alarms never went off and it allowed the suspects to make returns for gift cards or cash.
"It could be quite a bit of money on those cards," said Brinkman.
On Wednesday, FOX 17 talked to Detective Karl Schmitz, who's also working this case.
"It’s not worth it, it really isn’t," he said. "It’s only a matter of time until they get caught and when they do they’re going to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
Police are still investigating this case.
Kavaughn Satchel-Young is currently out on bond. Police are still searching for Mickey Ruffin.
If you have any information call Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345.