UPDATE: Middle East Mart Reopens in Charleston

UPDATE 4/8/14 @ 2:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A Charleston business at the center of an investigation involving a shoplifting ring has reopened.

Tuesday, WSAZ crews stopped by the Middle East Mart, which is now back open after being shut down last week by the health department.

The owner refused to talk to us and told our crews he had a lawyer.

The health department closed the store last week because of a leaking roof in the kitchen.

The owners had to prove repairs were made before they reopened.

The shutdown followed a raid by Charleston Police. The business was raided last week, after an eight-month undercover investigation into what they call a shoplifting ring. They say the owner would give well-known thieves a shopping list, send them out to get high ends purses, food, DVDs and CDs, and they would be brought back to the Middle East Mart and sold.

The owner's wife, Khitam Ghoul, was arrested and charged with transferring and receiving stolen property.

The investigation into the ring continues.

UPDATE 4/4/14 @ 1:10 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A Charleston business raided for allegedly running an illegal shoplifting ring has been shut down by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

According to Nasandra Wright, the Environmental Health Director for KCHD the Middle East Mart was shut down today because the roof is leaking in the kitchen.

Wright says that could be an imminent threat to public health.

KCHD was notified about the conditions inside the Middle East Mart by members of the the Charleston Police Department following a raid on Thursday.

During the raid, where the owner's wife was arrested for receiving and transferring stolen property, officers noticed several potential health-code violations.

Wright says that right now the business is only shut-down because of the leaky roof. She says once the owner contacts the Health Department to reopen they will likely go back in with a sanitarian for a full inspection.

Police say that over the last eight months they've conducted an undercover operation where they learned about the shoplifting ring.

Sergeant Bobby Eggleton says that people inside the mart are giving lists to well-known thieves. The thieves would steal things like high end purses, food, and items from an entertainment store and resell them at the Middle East Mart.

ORIGINAL STORY 4/3/14 @ 11:42 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- It was anything but business as usual at the Middle East Mart Thursday afternoon.

Charleston Police raided the business after an eight month undercover investigation of what they call retail organized crime.

Police say the store owner would give well-known-thieves a shopping list -- sending them out to get high end purses, food, and even DVDs and CDs.

They'd bring them to the Middle East Mart for resale.

Charleston Police Sergeant Bobby Eggleton says they worked with major retailers Macy's, Kroger, and the music store FYE to crack these cases.

FYE Manager Carrie Richardson said the raid is a relief. "I am overjoyed, and you really don't know how much because it is to the point now that the store can close if they don't get it under control."

Sergeant Eggelton says the thieves are people the police know on a first-name-basis. He says that people who think that shop-lifting is not a problem that affects anyone they should think again.

"That is the problem people think in the public right now (they think) 'it's just a shoplifter,' no it's not, $700,000 was stolen out of the mall last year," Sergeant Eggelton explained that increases costs for all shoppers. "I can't afford it as a citizen I can't afford it as a citizen and I am not going to tolerate it as a citizen."

Khitam Ghoul was arrested Thursday. She is the wife of the owner of the Middle East Mart. She is facing a charge of transferring and receiving stolen property.

The investigation into the bust is not over.

In addition to the stolen items police found money, pot, and drug paraphernalia. There were also several situations that police say could be health-code violations.

Two other people, inside the store when the raid happened, were taken into custody they had warrants out for their arrests.

Sergeant Eggelton said it was a case of the wrong place at the wrong time.

The store is just a few steps away from the Charleston Transit Mall a well-known trouble spot in downtown Charleston.

In the last week and a half nearly two-dozen arrests have happened in that area related to outstanding warrants, drugs, and harassment.

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