COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Five women have been arrested after they were involved in a retail theft ring, which stretched from Berkley County to Richland County.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said employees of Bath and Body Works in Sandhills reported women entering the store, loading large candles into bags, then leaving the store on Tuesday.
Deputies answered the call and Bath and Body Works Loss Prevention told them the same women had recently stolen candles in Berkley County, saying they were involved in several ‘arranged thefts’.
Candles taken from stores were valued at $24.99 each and over $8,000 worth of inventory was recovered.
“These cases may seem insignificant amid the ongoing violence, but shopkeepers 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, the two drivers fled traffic stops and one was wrecked on Clemson Road and Old Clemson Road near Sandhills.
Two women were then arrested in this vehicle, and a large number of candles were found.
Sheriff Leon Lott said the driver of the second vehicle led deputies in a chase through Columbia, ending in a collision on I-26 near the I-77 interchange. The driver hit a guardrail.
At the scene of this incident, more candles were found in the car and three women were arrested.
Investigators say the five women are from the Charleston area and came to Colombia with the intention of stealing candles from several stores.
“These weren’t isolated shoplifting, it was an organized ring that hit stores across the state. Unfortunately for them, they picked stores in Richland County where they were caught and we are not going to allow our businesses to be terrorized here,” Sheriff Lott said.
The suspects have already been linked to robberies in Florence, Lexington County, and two other robberies Monday in Richland County. These thefts took place at the Columbia Place Mall and Sandhills malls.
Additional merchandise from other stores was also recovered, 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, were arrested and charged with retail theft.
They were booked into the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.
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