AG: Boyfriend/Girlfriend Team Stole $100,000 in Clothes From TJ Maxx, Marshalls
Marshalls and TJ Maxx are known for carrying designer clothes at discount prices, but those prices apparently weren’t quite low enough for the 13 people just indicted in New Jersey for allegedly stealing more than $100,000 in clothes from the stores.
Prosecutors say that Alicia Blackburne, 27, and Robert Campbell, 29, who live together just outside of Atlantic City in Galloway Township, were the ringleaders of a band of thieves that targeted locations of the stores all over South Jersey between July 2014 and August 2015. (Blackburne’s Facebook page indicates that she and Campbell are romantically involved.)
Here’s how the scheme worked, according to investigators. Dave Grohl-lookalike Campbell would drive Blackburne to a store, where she would put expensive clothing into her shoulder bag before heading to the bathroom to take off the security tags. Then she’d exit the store and give the clothes to another member of the team, who would immediately go into the store and return the items, receiving a gift card for the value. (Both stores, which are owned by the same company, allow you to return items without a receipt.)
After the ring obtained gift cards from TJ Maxx or Marshalls, Blackburne or Campbell allegedly took the cards to local pawn shops, where they were given about half of the value of the cards in cash. Prosecutors say that each gift card was valued at anywhere from a few hundred bucks to over $800.
Blackburne and Campbell have both been charged with being leaders of an organized retail theft enterprise as well as conspiracy and shoplifting, and they face up to a decade in prison if convicted.
Also facing charges of conspiracy and shoplifting: Courtney L. Perkins, 21, of Mays Landing, N.J.; Amanda A. Rivera, 29, of Cape May Court House, N.J.; Julias A. Williams, 57, of Cape May Court House, N.J.; Megan A. Flinn, 20, of Galloway, N.J.; Benett L. Bollinger, 35, of Smithville, N.J.; Jennifer Distefano, 28, of Smithville, N.J.; William H. Lowe, 31, of Cape May Court House, N.J.; Edward J. Vanaman, 26, of Cape May Court House, N.J.; Priscilla E. Laboy, 20, of Petersburg, N.J.; Dylan A. Gallo, 21, of Villas, N.J.; and Ashley P. Blackburne, 20, of Cape May Court House, N.J., who is the niece of the accused co-ringleader.
“Organized retail theft cost merchants $44 billion last year nationwide, according to an industry estimate,” said New Jersey Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman in a statement. “It’s easy to see how the losses mount when you’re dealing with thieves as methodical and prolific as the alleged members of this theft ring. We’ll continue to work closely with the industry to investigate and aggressively prosecute these criminal enterprises.”
Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.