Lake Worth police arrested a pair of suspects believed to be responsible for over 30 retail thefts committed since Halloween.
A 911 call placed from a Walgreens brought Christopher Bivens, 33, and Terrence Parish, 37, to the attention of Lake Worth police on Tuesday. Officers arrived at the scene and chased the duo as they allegedly attempted to flee in a red sedan down Lake Worth Boulevard.
Eventually, Parish, who was purportedly driving the car, was stopped and taken into custody. Bivens allegedly attempted to flee on foot but was quickly apprehended. While both face charges of organized theft, Bivens faces an additional charge of evading arrest.
Upon inspecting the suspects’ vehicle, police reportedly uncovered nearly 250 stolen items worth an estimated $3,284.
“They also found evidence linking these two individuals to at least five other similar thefts in the DFW Metroplex that day, and since then, they’ve been linked to at least 30 thefts going back to Halloween,” Lake Worth Police Chief Jay Manoushagian explained, according to Fox 4 KDFW.
On the day of their arrest, the two suspects allegedly hit five different locations, acting boldly and taking advantage of store policies prohibiting employees from intervening directly during theft attempts.
“It appears that they’re targeting beauty products. So they enter the business, appear to walk around, scope out what is available, and then they will start to make their selections, pull out a trash bag or pants pocket, or jacket, or pants pocket, and simply rake the contents of the shelf into the bag and then they would leave,” Manoushagian said, per Fox 4.
Bivens and Parish are suspected of being part of a larger criminal network that makes money selling stolen goods online.
“When you see items being offered for sale online at a price that seems too good to be true, we’re going to ask them to reconsider that purchase,” said Manoushagian, according to Fox 4.
Organized theft rings have popped up across the metroplex. For instance, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport official Chris McLaughlin pointed to such coordinated criminal activity as the main driver of auto vehicle thefts from airport parking lots, as reported by The Dallas Express.
There have been 24,141 reported thefts and 16,212 reported motor vehicle thefts so far this year in Dallas, according to the City’s crime analytics dashboard. Dallas has become ground zero for car thieves, with the Dallas Police Department lacking the manpower to handle such high-volume crimes, as previously covered by The Dallas Express.
Despite a City analysis stating that a municipality the size of Dallas should have about three officers for every 1,000 residents (roughly 4,000 officers in total), DPD currently fields fewer than 3,200 officers.
Downtown Dallas has been affected most by the officer deficit. The neighborhood remains a hotbed of criminal activity, especially auto theft. One study comparing Dallas’ city center to Fort Worth’s downtown area found that over the course of one month, 91 motor vehicle thefts occurred in the former compared to just two in the latter. Fort Worth’s city center is reportedly patrolled by a dedicated police unit working alongside private security guards.