(12/11/13) - Four people from Genesee County charged with stealing thousands of dollars in merchandise from a Midland Kohl's store, might be part of a bigger theft ring.
Police say the group stole a large amount of items from the Kohl's store on Joe Mann Boulevard earlier this week. They were arrested a few miles away, on US-10.
Now police in other counties want to question them.
Police say this was not your typical shoplifting case, where items are concealed. They say the four people grabbed as much stuff as they could, threw it in two shopping carts, and ran out of the store.
Christopher Ming, Thomas Biggs, Mario Pegues - all of Flint - and Arleisa Smith of Grand Blanc, all face at least five years in prison for retail fraud. During a court appearance on Wednesday, Pegues claimed he is in the military and had just returned from active duty in Afghanistan.
The four are accused of going into the Kohl's store in Midland on Monday afternoon and taking close to $5,000 worth of merchandise - everything from electronic tablets to clothing - from the store, putting the items in two shopping carts, running out of the store, and putting the shopping carts in their SUV. An SUV matching the description from witnesses was stopped not far from the store on US-10.
"The way the individuals were walking out in a quick manner, the amount of items in the carts, and then setting off the alarms in the stores," said Sgt. Michael Sokol, of the Midland Police Department.
During the hearing, Midland County Prosecutor Michael Carpenter told Circuit Court Judge Stephen Carras that the four are believed to be part of a theft ring that has hit stores in other counties. Bond for the three men was set between $20,000 - $50,000 cash.
"We have belief they are also involved in shoplifting complaints in three other stores across the state of Michigan," Sokol said.
Sokol says police agencies and retailers are on the lookout for retail fraud during the Christmas shopping season.
"We definitely spend more time around the retails areas around this time of the year," Sokol said.
Midland Police are still working with other law enforcement agencies that have had similar crimes to see if the four people could face charges in other counties.
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