Gypsy family stole $3 million from retailers since 2009, police say
By Jay Keller
Police in Torrance, Calif., released over the weekend additional details involving the arrest of a self-described band of Gypsies who operated a retail-theft ring that targeted many stores across the country dating back to 2009.
Torrance Police Detectives say that a four-month investigation led to the apprehension of four Chicago-area men and women who stole merchandise from stores in Calif., Colo., Wash. and Fla.
Investigators say the group is responsible for approximately $3-million dollars in property theft from Apple stores, Best Buy, Costco, Microsoft, PetSmart, Sams Club, Sports Authority and Wal-Mart.
The Gypsy band was arrested in Hawthorne, Calif., after Torrance investigators conducted surveillance and observed the subjects commit thefts at Apple Stores throughout both Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
Police say that during the course of their crimes, the suspects would all enter a store, select a large amount of merchandise, conceal it on their person and leave without paying.
“Generally, the men would select and maneuver the merchandise into position where the females would later conceal the items under their oversized dresses and overcoats,” Sergeant Robert Watt of the Torrance Police Department said in a statement.
Upon completing the thefts observed by law enforcement, the subjects attempted to mail the stolen property to various out-of-state locations to be recovered at a later time.
Since the group effectively “shoplifted” merchandise, the thefts appeared as singular crimes that occur every day throughout the retail industry.
But, since the group was organized, targeted stores for a long period of time, resulting in millions of dollars in theft, the District Attorney charged them with multiple counts of conspiracy to commit commercial burglary and grand theft.
Watt said that the relentless follow-up by Torrance investigators led to a joint effort between local law enforcement officials to analyze and uncover the magnitude of the crimes being committed by the conspirators.
The investigation remains an ongoing operation and Watt says the department is optimistic that the arrest will lead to the recovery of additional evidence.
“This case is a small step in uncovering numerous other related conspirators and retail victims,” Watt said.
Police said the suspects all hailed from Chicago and identified them as Ausra Bauzinskaite, 34; Adeliya Nassybullina, 30; Lukasz Karasinski, 37; and Przemyslaw Skiba, 31.
The Polish-born individuals are being held without bail and remain in custody at the L.A. County Jail after entering a not-guilty plea at a court hearing on March 12. The suspects were arrested on March 7, 2013.