‘Criminal enterprise’ from other states robbing Fairfax retail stores: officials

Investigators say they are seeing an increase in people traveling from out of state to rob Fairfax stores and returning to their home states hundreds of miles away.

"It’s different than just your regular run-of-the-mill petty larceny or your ‘shoplifting.’ This truly is a criminal enterprise where we’re seeing people come into this area from all across the eastern seaboard," said Captain Brad Libby of Fairfax County Police.

Libby says Fairfax County is targeted because it's one of the largest urban retail centers in the area. 

"A lot of these organized crime retail theft crews really see Fairfax County as an opportunity. But we have staffed our urban retail with detectives to combat this growing problem," said Libby. 

Last week, detectives from the Tysons Urban Team broke up and arrested two out-of-state retail theft crews. Those theft rings targeted Fairfax County malls and retail stores. One crew stole $27,000 worth of merchandise from Fair Oaks Mall, police say. 

Police tell FOX 5 that some of the suspects in those thefts traveled from New York and New Jersey.

"One thing that we have is a tight highway system. They are up and down 95, 270 I-70. They are hitting Baltimore, the DMV, Philly and they really are raiding these high-end, higher-volume retailers. Home Depot, Lowes, American Eagle," said Frederick County State’s Attorney Charlie Smith. 

The Tysons Urban Team's operation includes both visible and undercover patrols. Fairfax County detectives also use computer investigative efforts, tracking retail theft rings that may try to sell their stolen goods online or on social media platforms.