Police used GPS tracking, Facebook to bust huge shoplifting ring
Above (from left to right): Veronica Perry, Francheska McGraw, Apiphany Porter, Latoya McGill, Kenya Matthews
INDIANAPOLIS – Seven women have been charged in a far-ranging retail crime ring that included forgery and theft, prosecutors say.
The women called themselves the “Get Money Team” and are believed to be involved in at least twenty incidents of retail theft in Marion County and surrounding counties. Charges against them include corrupt business influence, theft, battery and criminal recklessness. The latter two charges involve an incident in which a sales clerk was attacked for asking to look into a bag after security systems went off.
Police arrested five of the seven women Thursday. Two remain at large.
Those arrested are:
- Francheska McGraw has been charged with Corrupt Business Influence (Class C Felony) and six counts of Theft (Class D Felony).
- Apiphany Porter has been charged with Corrupt Business Influence (Class C Felony), Battery (Class C Felony), Criminal Recklessness (Class D Felony), Forgery (Class C Felony), and seven counts of Theft (Class D Felony).
- Kenya Matthews has been charged with Corrupt Business Influence (Class C Felony) and five counts of Theft (Class D Felony).
- Latoya McGill has been charged with Corrupt Business Influence (Class C Felony) and five counts of Theft (Class D Felony).
- Veronica Perry has been charged with Corrupt Business Influence (Class C Felony), Forgery (Class C Felony), and five counts of Theft (Class D Felony).
Two of the suspects are charged with forgery after trying to pass counterfeit $20 bills.
According to prosecutors, members of the “Get Money Team” engaged in a coordinated effort to shoplift from area retail stores. They took orders and sold stolen items out of their homes, from their vehicles and at hair salons, prosecutors said. The scheme dates back as far as November 2000, according to court documents.
In several earlier cases, investigators were unable to pin the thefts on the suspects because essential witnesses were unavailable or the cases were not prosecuted. Prosecutors said surveillance cameras caught several of the thefts and that police became familiar with members of the group. They attached GPS devices to several of the suspects’ cars to track their movements—and found the women were often traveling to malls and retail stores. The women were also all connected on Facebook and referenced their activities, in one post referring to themselves as the “MONEY TEAM.”
On Oct. 8, surveillance teams followed the women to the Castleton Square Mall and observed them going through different stores. Police approached store managers, and discovered many of the stores the women visited were missing merchandise.
Investigators said the women had a “clear, deliberate and organized group activity centering around committing theft.” They mostly targeted “clothing or items for personal wear” of “various sizes and types.” According to the probable cause affidavit, “each of the participants profits from the activity and uses the proceeds from the sale of items to maintain their lifestyle.”
The arrests are the result of an investigation by officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s Downtown District and the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office’s Multi-Jurisdictional Offender Strategy Team (M.O.S.T.), which prosecutes and prevents property crimes in Marion County and surrounding counties through the work of three deputy prosecutors and an IMPD officer.