Two brothers are accused of working together to steal more than $100,000 worth of merchandise from a Chandler Kohl’s over several months.
According to court documents, the store’s Loss Prevention Supervisor contacted Chandler police regarding what he believed to be an organized retail theft case.
The supervisor told police their annual inventory showed an unusual increase in losses for the store located on South Arizona Avenue.
He said he became suspicious of Loss Prevention Officer Rafael Lopez and began to review surveillance video from days that Lopez worked.
In video from several days, from March through May, the supervisor noticed a subject coming into the store with an empty shopping cart and leaving through another door with the cart full and without trying to stop and pay for the merchandise.
The supervisor noticed that one of the surveillance cameras had been quickly moved away from one of the doors, but was able to see the suspect leaving with the merchandise on another camera.
The merchandise stolen ranged from shoes, to clothing, watches and perfume.
The supervisor estimated the total losses to be between $100,000 and $200,000 based on the numbers from the audit.
The supervisor finally figured out the two men were brothers when he thought the suspect looked like Lopez and went on the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office website to look at mug shots.
He found one under the name Yuri Lopez-Saumell and told police Lopez-Saumell had a strong resemblance to Rafael Lopez.
Both men have been arrested.
Studies show retail theft, on average, cost families $435 a year.
"A consumer might say why am I suddenly seeing increased costs. A lot of it is because there's people stealing and it's costing you money," said Michelle Ahlmer, Executive Director of the Arizona Retailers Association.
"While it may not be a huge signicant cost per item per individual, over a year, each consumer is getting an average cost of over $400 per year. I know that I could use $400 more dollars a year," added Ahlmer.