BAYTOWN, Texas (FOX 26) - Baytown police are on the lookout for a ring of criminals who are stealing, of all things, baby formula. Cops say this crime goes way beyond shoplifting. We’re not talking about one or even 50 cans of baby formula stolen. Baytown police are now on the hunt for thieves who have stolen thousands of dollars of baby formula all from one store.
The video is unmistakable. Baytown Police Detective Felipe Gallegos says the surveillance video shows several suspected thieves in Walmart loading a diaper bag full of stolen baby formula.
“Two or three they act as lookouts. One or two they grab items big enough to cover the view from the cameras and the public walking inside the store,” explains Detective Gallegos.
A ring of eight people, according to Gallegos, has hit the same Walmart on Garth Road eight times since last month. Although video of one of the suspects shows her hopping out of a black Nissan Xterra and going into the store with a baby, but Gallegos believes the formula is actually being sold.
"I think that’s what they’re doing. They’re selling it on the black market. It’s cheaper than buying it at the stores". Gallegos says the group steals hundreds of dollars in formula each time. “In one single incident it was for $935”. The group has allegedly snatched more than $3500 worth of baby formula. Turns out there’s a huge black market for, otherwise, expensive baby formula.
You can find discounted formula all over Craigslist and Ebay. ”They could put anything in there. There’s no way I’d buy it from anywhere but a retail store,” says Wal-Mart shopper Megan Henderson.
”It’s sad to me if people have to go to the black market just to be able to afford it,” adds customer Bonnie Cherico.
”They are my life. I value my kids. You make them, you take care of them. You might as well pay the price for what you need. It’s important. You don’t want to buy something and the next day they’re throwing up sick. It’s not worth it,” says shopper Leonardo Donai.
The men and women wanted for this crime are also seen driving a goldish brown Tahoe. They face felony Organized Crime charges and potentially Endangering a Child. It is certainly dangerous buying formula from the black market. If you need assistance with formula a couple of places you can turn to are The Gabriel Project through Catholic Charities 713-225-5826 and Life Houston 713-528-6044.
If you have any information in this case, contact Baytown PD: 281.422.8371.