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Woman arrested, linked to organized retail theft after brazen heist at Carlsbad drug store

A San Bernardino woman pleaded not guilty this week to organized retail theft, a few weeks after police say she walked off with more than $9,400 of over-the-counter medications in a brazen heist at a Carlsbad drugstore.

The woman and a partner hit the Rite Aid store at Tamarack Avenue and Interstate 5 twice on Jan. 4, Carlsbad police said. Sgt. Justin Richards said the stolen drugs included pain relievers and cold and allergy medication.

Surveillance video caught images of the license plate and car used in the heists. Police, who suspected the woman was part of a large-scale organized ring, found the vehicle and their suspect in San Bernardino.

Richards said police pulled the woman over. In the car, investigators found items stolen from stores in Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties. The items — $11,000 worth — were returned to the stores, he said.

He said police believe the ring operated throughout Southern California. Generally, he said, the thieves bring very large bags into a store, fill them and walk out. They tend to take medicine and cosmetics not secured behind glass or a counter.

The crime ring is “dismissive” of any employees who approach. “They continue what they are doing and off they went,” Richards said. And it happens quick.

“Typically by the time that police arrive they’d cleared the shelves and are gone,” Richards said.

The 28-year-old woman remained jailed Saturday in lieu of $200,00 bail.

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