KOTA KINABALU: Police believe they have cracked a series of supermarket theft cases over the past few months here with the arrest of nine suspects, believed to be family and friends, one of them an 11-year-old boy.
The suspects, comprising four females and five males, were nabbed after their latest attempt at a supermarket here was captured on CCTV.
Kota Kinabalu city police chief Asst Comm M. Chandra said in addition to the nine, two suspected Pakistani buyers, aged 48 and 24, were also arrested.
“We received a report from a supermarket security guard on Feb 7, saying that CCTV footage showed several women taking things from shelves and shoving them into their pants and shirts,” he said.
He said footage also showed four men, who appeared to be lookouts and who later assisted the women in leaving the supermarket in Indah Permai near here undetected.
ACP Chandra said some RM900 worth of items were stolen, including cosmetics, lotions and perfumes in this latest incident.
Following the security report, police went to the Telipok settlement and raided three houses between 2am and 3am on Feb 10 and arrested nine suspects.
ACP Chandra added that of the 11 arrested, four were Malaysians while the rest were foreigners.
He said the suspects included a family comprising a 40-year-old man, a 42-year-old woman and their 11-year old son; a couple aged 32 and 36; a 22-year-old man; two teenagers aged 18 and 19 (who tested positive for drugs), and a 41-year-old woman said to be the group's mastermind.
“Most of the suspects, including the mastermind, have several previous convictions for similar offences,” ACP Chandra said.
He said the two buyers held Pakistani passports and would be investigated for purchasing stolen items.
ACP Chandra said police seized over RM8,000 worth of goods such as clothes and toiletries from the suspects.
He said the group is implicated in at least four other cases involving losses of over RM7,000.
The suspects, he said, knew the layout of the supermarkets they targeted well, and would strike when there were not many security guards around.
He added that the group knew which exit points did not have anti-theft scanners installed.
ACP Chandra said the group was not the only active shoplifting gang in the city and investigations were being conducted to track down the others.