California Mother Arrested for Allegedly Leading $8 Million Makeup Theft Ring from Her Mansion

Michelle Mack reportedly made $1.89 million in 2022 from reselling the stolen items.

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Remember all those stories about retail theft sweeping big cities? Well now a San Diego woman is accused of helming a crime ring that swiped makeup from a number of popular retail chains across the United States and profited by selling the stolen items.

CNBC captured the moment when a convoy of law enforcement vehicles surrounded the San Diego mansion of Michelle Mack and her husband Kenneth in Dec. 2023. Michelle allegedly spearheaded an operation from her $2.75 million home where she paid upwards of 12 women to steal nearly $8 million worth of makeup from such stores as Alta Beauty, T.J. Maxx, and Walgreens.

These goods would then be resold for a deeply discounted price on an Amazon storefront called "Online Makeup Store." For example, an Estee Lauder foundation bottle typically priced at $52 was available for $25.

Remember all those smash-and-grab videos of store theft? Now meet the suburban housewife and her husband behind an $8 million nationwide shoplifting ring. 😏

— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) March 13, 2024
Twitter: @keithboykin

According to CNBC, investigators referred to the operation as "California Girls," but their reach was not limited to the state. Mack covered expenses for the women who traveled to 10 states, including Washington, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. She dictated what items they needed to steal and were advised to clear out entire shelves.

"I'm not stealing regular I'm going to start filling up my bag quick," Kimora Lee Gooding, one of the women involved in the operation, texted Mack in Jan. 2023, according to court records. "So I want to know stuff I can grab in bulks too."

"Even without lancome we still did well," Mack texted her husband days later, to which he responded, "Lots of orders let's get shipping."

These stolen products were stashed inside Mack's garage. California Highway Patrol recovered almost 10,000 items from her "mini store," with a value over $387,000.

Investigators learned from Amazon sales records that Mack made $1.89 million in 2022.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced last month that Michelle, her husband Kenneth and seven associates face 140 felony charges, including conspiracy to commit organized retail theft, grand theft and receipt of stolen property.

"This is a multimillion-dollar criminal scheme. It was complex. It was orchestrated," Bonta said at the time. "We are not talking about garden-variety shoplifting."

All defendants have pleaded not guilty.

As the New York Times pointed out late last year, despite complaints from retailers, viral clips of people shoplifting, and media coverage of incidents, retail theft was actually lower last year than before the pandemic (with the exception of New York City). Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation claimed that half of the $94.5 billion in merchandise that went missing in 2021 was because of organized theft. But experts said it was likely closer to 5 percent.

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