AG Announces Takedown of Statewide Organized Retail Theft Ring

Attorney General Rob Bonta in Oakland (Courtesy of the Attorney General’s Office)

by Robert J. Hansen

Oakland, CA – Two members of an organized retail theft ring operating throughout California pleaded guilty in court according to California Attorney General Rob Bonta who made the announcement yesterday in a press statement.

Anton Salaam and Marion Paul Tilley pleaded guilty to committing retail theft at multiple JCPenney and Sam’s Clubs stores, resulting in approximately $1 million in losses according to Bonta.

“Organized retail theft costs businesses, retailers, and consumers – and puts the public at risk,” Bonta said. “Brazen criminal activity, such as the organized retail theft operation we are taking action against today, will not be tolerated in California. As our state’s chief law enforcement officer, I am committed to aggressively pursuing and prosecuting those who break the law. Ending crime is a team effort.”

Charges against the other individuals allegedly involved in the scheme were also filed.

The suspects, in this case, entered stores by breaking through exterior doors and stealing high-end jewelry in locations throughout California including Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Placer, Sacramento, San Bernardino, and Tulare Counties according to the statement.

The Attorney General said the arrests and pleadings were the result of a collaborative multi-agency investigation that included the CHP Organized Retail Crime Task Force, the Citrus Heights Police Department, Roseville Police Department, Fresno Police Department, Hanford Police Department, Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, Visalia Police Department, Bakersfield Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Folsom Police Department, Chino Police Department, and Bullhead, Arizona Police Department who apprehended two of the suspects.

Officers located evidence in the defendants’ homes, including jewelry and cases used for sale. It is further alleged that the suspects were stealing the items to sell, exchange, or return them for value.

The investigation began in 2020 and was the culmination of two years of the law enforcement agencies’ cooperative efforts between September 2020 and February 2021,

Under newly-signed AB 1065, the CHP has partnered with the DOJ to establish a regional property crimes task force and assist local law enforcement with resources, such as personnel and equipment.

Governor Newsom also signed Assembly Bill 331 to extend CHP’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force until January 1, 2026.

“California is doing more than ever to crack down on retail theft, hold criminals accountable, and protect local businesses,” Governor Gavin Newsom said. “I am grateful for the hard work of Attorney General Bonta and the CHP in their work to curb retail crime and ensure Californians feel safe.”

Salaam and Tilley pleaded guilty to a violation of organized retail theft. Salaam was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment. Tilley has pleaded guilty and agreed to a 16-month prison sentence but has not yet been formally sentenced.

A third suspect has been charged with organized retail theft and child endangerment, as an illegal assault weapon was allegedly found in the presence of the suspect’s nine-year-old child. A fourth suspect was also charged with organized retail theft.

CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray said this case underscores the commitment of the CHP and local law enforcement agencies to enhance public safety throughout the state of California.

“I extend my appreciation to all who worked so hard on this case, which resulted in these arrests,” Ray said.

California and states across the country have seen a pattern of organized retail crime. According to a 2020 national survey, U.S. retailers lose approximately $700,000 per every $1 billion in sales to organized retail crime.

In December 2021, the Attorney General announced the sentencing of a group involved in organized retail theft in the Bay Area.

That same month he brought together retailers and law enforcement to address the challenge of organized retail theft and develop strategies for combating this criminal activity head-on.

About The Author

Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Robert is covering the Yolo County DA's race for the Vanguard.

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