Five women arrested in retail theft ring, over $8,000 worth of inventory recovered
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Five women have been arrested after being involved in a retail theft ring, which spanned from Berkeley County to Richland County.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says employees of Bath and Body Works in Sandhills reported women entering the store, loading large candles into bags, and then leaving the store Tuesday.
Deputies responded to the call, and Bath and Body Works Loss Prevention told them the same women had recently stolen candles from the Berkley County location, stating they were involved in several “organized thefts.”
The candles taken from the stores were valued at $24.99 each, and over $8,000 worth of inventory was recovered.
“These cases may seem insignificant in the midst of the violence going on but merchants are losing thousands of dollars in these property crimes,” Sheriff Lott said.
Richland County deputies were able to locate the two vehicles that left the scene and performed a traffic stop on each.
According to deputies, both drivers fled from the traffic stops, and one wrecked off Clemson Road and Old Clemson Road near Sandhills.
Two women were then detained from that vehicle, with a significant number of candles being found.
Sheriff Leon Lott says the driver of the second vehicle led deputies on a chase through Columbia, ending with a collision on I-26 near the I-77 interchange. The driver struck a guardrail.
At the scene of that incident, more candles were found in the car and three women were detained.
Investigators say all five women are from the Charleston area and came to Columbia with the intention of stealing candles from multiple stores.
“These weren’t isolated shopliftings, it was an organized ring that hit stores throughout the state. Unfortunately for them, they chose stores in Richland County where they were caught and we aren’t going to allow our businesses to be terrorized here,” Sheriff Lott said.
The suspects have been previously linked to thefts in Florence, Lexington County, and two other thefts on Monday in Richland County. Those thefts occurred at Columbia Place Mall and Sandhills locations.
Additional merchandise from other stores was recovered as well, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
Alicia Cooper, 32, Keonna King-Gant, 29, Ashley Howard, 35, Tyeshia Prioleau, 32, and Tanoshia Bowens, 25, have been arrested and charged with retail theft.
They were booked at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.
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