PD: Phoenix retail theft ring a family affair - Tucson News Now

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PD: Phoenix retail theft ring a family affair

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Elizabeth Rodriguez-Alvarez (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Elizabeth Rodriguez-Alvarez (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Lizzette Vargas (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Lizzette Vargas (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Mario Vargas (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Mario Vargas (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Terri Vargas (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Terri Vargas (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Jose Alvarez-Burgos (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Jose Alvarez-Burgos (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Phoenix police said a woman, three of her children and a son-in-law are suspected of stealing from various retail stores around the state and selling the items at yard sales or trading them for drugs.

Police on Friday arrested Elizabeth Rodriguez-Alvarez, 48; Lizzette Vargas, 27; Mario Vargas, 28; and Terri Vargas, 25, and her husband, Jose Alvarez-Burgos, 23, at the home where they all live, Phoenix police Officer James Holmes said.

A neighbor, Paulina Tellez, was shocked by the arrests.

"It's just a regular yard sale like everybody does," Tellez said. "I didn't see anything different."

Police said the thefts occurred from November of 2013 until July of 2014 and the suspects stole primarily lingerie and other clothing items.

Holmes said some of the victimized businesses were Victoria's Secret, Dillard's, Ulta, Express, Charlotte Russe and Aeropostale.

"They weren't only hitting the Valley," Holmes said. "We know that they were hitting stores in Flagstaff, they were hitting stores in Prescott."

In June of 2014, Phoenix detectives began gathering information and evidence against the family, performed surveillance and made purchases from the family at their yard sales, Holmes said.

Detectives said the suspects would often distract employees of the businesses to commit the thefts, Holmes said.

In one instance, Terri Vargas and Mario Vargas committed an alleged theft at Arrowhead Mall, Holmes said. When the suspects tried to leave the mall they were confronted by mall security. At that time Mario Vargas repeatedly used a large "pepper spray" device on the security guard before they escaped.

On July 21, Phoenix police detectives collected trash and recycling containers from their home. They said they recovered 24 security sensors in a Dillard's shopping bag.

Detectives served a search warrant at the suspects' house Friday and all were taken into custody, Holmes said, adding that many stolen items were recovered during the search, including some with sales tags and security devices.

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