Sophisticated shoplifting gang ripping off retailers

By Robert Frank

Laval police have circulated photos of three suspects—two men and a woman—whom they allege have been stealing merchandise from stores in Laval, West Island, North Shore, St. Laurent and the northern sector of Montreal. They are asking for the public to help them to identify the perpetrators.

“We at last have good quality security camera images of the suspects,” said Sgt. Frédéric Jean. “We believe that they have been involved in other thefts, but the video quality was not as good as in this instance, and we are hoping that the public will be able to assist us.”

“We believe that these people might be Roma,” he explained. Roma, an ethnic group that primarily lives in Central and Eastern Europe, were hitherto called Gypsies, however many people now consider the term pejorative.

Roma were persecuted by the Nazis during World War II, and hundreds of thousands of them—perhaps more than a million according to some estimates—were systematically killed during the Holocaust.

“During he next couple of weeks, we expect to publish more information from other, related files in this case, together with photos.”

“These suspects have a very well-rounded operation,” Sgt. Jean continued. He said that one member of the group distracts retail staff while another pockets the merchandise.

In the alleged theft committed by the people depicted in the photos, “the staff never realized that almost $2,200 worth of perfume had been stolen. They only realized it when they looked at the security cameras.”

“The likeness of these individuals comes up again and again. We believe that they are quite active in Laval, Montreal and the North Shore,” he added.

“Right now we are correlating information. One of the projects involves at least a dozen thefts and another, more than 20. They involve thefts from pharmacies as well as from larger stores such as Wal-Mart.”

In addition to Laval, “some involve cases in St. Laurent, Park Extension, Pierrefonds and Kirkland.”

Sgt. Jean asked anyone who might have information that would lead to an arrest to call the Laval police confidential tip line at [450] 662-4636, or call 911 and mention file number LVL 120925 054.

Laval police want the public’s help in identifying these people, whom they believe might be Roma. They are accused of stealing $2,178 worth of perfume from the Pharmaprix at 5780 des Laurentides, Sept. 25, and are possibly suspects in dozens of other, similar Montreal-region thefts.

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