Photo: Melissa Partida
VENTURA COUNTY — With the price of high-fashion women’s lingerie apparently rivaling that of street drugs, the Victoria’s Secret emporiums throughout California have become the target of organized shoplifting efforts that have cost the chains more than$250,000 in losses over the past two years.
According to Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Det. Jason Louis, a mother-daughter team and an unnamed juvenile female may be responsible for that dollar figure loss where in recent months Oxnard and Thousand Oaks Victoria’s Secret stores have “been hit by theft crews” on five separate occasions.
Each of those events was recorded on surveillance video systems and show identical modus operandi involving the use of a baby stroller as a standard ruse of distraction. As described by Louis, once the baby stroller was filled with stolen merchandise, “one suspect would distract the sales staff while the other two suspects pushed the stroller out of the store.”
Giving the surveillance recordings careful study, Thousand Oaks Police Department detectives, working in concert with loss prevention staff at Victoria’s Secret identified Los Angeles residents 19-year-old Melissa Partida and her mother, 38-year-old Maria Perez as the culprits involved in the theft of nearly $15,000 of women’s undergarments.
With the identity of their suspects in hand, detectives learned that the team of thieves had spent the weekend of February 10th in the San Francisco area conducting their nefarious business.
The following day, February 11th, detectives from the Thousand Oaks Police Investigations Bureau observed the suspect vehicle southbound on I-5, and intercepted them in the Castaic area. The immediately ensuing investigation revealed a large volume of stolen goods in their vehicle. Partida, Perez, and the female juvenile were all taken into custody and transported to Ventura County Jail.
Both mother and daughter were booked on charges of commercial burglary, conspiracy, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The juvenile was transported to Ventura County Juvenile detention, charged with two counts of commercial burglary.
Photos: Courtesy Ventura County Jail Booking