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Columbus police are asking for the public’s help in identifying several suspects in the theft of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from three stores in FairOaks Mall.
At least $20,000 worth of merchandise was stolen during the incidents, said Lt. Matt Myers, spokesman for Columbus Police Department.
The thefts happened at Kmart, J.C. Penney Co. and Carson’s from early July through the first week of August, according to police. Police have reports from four of the incidents but think there were possibly two more that were not reported.
Columbus police said it appears that an organized group with two to six members, stole from Kmart and Carson’s, including one incident when the group stole from both stores just minutes apart.
The suspects are a group of black women who were occasionally accompanied by a black man. Myers said surveillance video shows one of the women wore a pink top in all but one of the incidents involving Kmart and Carson’s.
Police said the group typically entered the store together, then fanned out. The women were seen on security footage taking large bags from their purses and filling them up with merchandise.
When the group was larger in number, it spent less time in a store, sometimes just 5 minutes, police said.
A manager from one of the stores confronted one suspect during one of the incidents, but the individual fled, and other suspects from the group threw items at the manager and broke glass cases, Myers said.
Witnesses provided two vehicle descriptions for the group of suspects — a non-metallic gold/gray four-door passenger car and an SUV.
Columbus police said the thefts from J.C. Penney are unrelated to those at Kmart and Carson’s, and they involve a single black suspect believed to be a black man dressed as a woman.
The suspect entered the store on two occasions in mid-July and acted alone. This suspect took $8,000 in Nike apparel the first time. A few days later the same suspect took $5,000 in merchandise.
No vehicle description has been provided for this suspect.
Surrounding counties have been contacted to see if these suspects might be operating elsewhere and to see if anyone else has information that might help the investigation, Myers said.
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