HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Milk, bread candles -- that's what a thief stole from one local drug store.
It drums up a sympathetic note of maybe someone stealing food to feed their family until you hear the rest of the story. We look into a growing ring of professional stealing designed to throw off even the most scrupulous observer.
“They normally pick up the bread, milk, candy to put on top of what they're really after,” a store clerk said. “It's like a decoy to cover it.”
In this case, the real target was some pricy candles. At $20 each, they're a big seller at flea markets for a fraction of the price. According to the police report, the thief took a loaf of bread, a half gallon of milk and at least six candles.
A clerk who didn’t want to be identified says her years of retail experience have given her a sort of radar for thieves.
“He was very friendly,” she said. “He talked to several of us. A lot of times, they will make conversation with you. But, when they make a lot of conversation, it gives you vibes.”
But, there was more in this case that tipped off the employee.
“When I came down the aisle, he grabbed the bread immediately and threw it on top,” she said.
Drug stores say this is a growing trend among thieves -- they now have a plan. Their targets are small things that cost a lot and can easily be resold at flea markets for much less – items such as make-up, nail polish and a wide range of over the counter drugs.
“Eventually, it raises prices,” the clerk said. “It hurts all of us and then you've gotta watch.”
“Back in the 70s, you never heard about all of these people stealing unless you were desperately in need for food,” said Kenny Spry, a customer.
But, in this case, food was just the cover up for the bigger crime.
Police are working more closely with stores and flea markets to better identify stolen items being resold.