INDIANAPOLIS — Felony charges are filed against two people accused of running an organized retail theft ring in Indianapolis.
Prosecutors claim the two suspects, who were arrested this week, stole thousands of dollars in tools from several businesses and then tried to sell those items on Facebook Marketplace.
Lawmakers are trying to crack down on the crime. This year, they passed a new law which means that sort of crime can now carry a tough punishment.
From the Walmart in Beech Grove, to a Lowe’s on Emerson, a second Lowe’s on Madison and a Menards on Emerson, prosecutors claim two accused thieves stole thousands of dollars in expensive DeWalt table saws and drills last month, then tried to resell those items to unsuspecting customers online.
“When someone is organized like this and reselling it, that is just beyond the pale of egregious,” said Indiana Senator Aaron Freeman.
To help fight organized retail theft, State Sen. Freeman authored Senate Bill 343, which passed the statehouse and became law in May.
The law increases the penalty for that crime.
Specifically, the law changes the crime from a level 6 felony to a level 5 felony in cases involving stolen items over $50,000 or stolen firearms. Prosecutors can also seek the enhanced felony if the suspect has a previous conviction for the same crime.
“I’m proud of the bill. I just wish it wasn’t necessary,” said Freeman. “We just felt the court system and prosecutors needed another tool in their bag to deal with organized retail theft rings.”
The local branch of the Better Business Bureau agrees.
“You’re going to want to do your due diligence on these items and the seller before making these purchases,” said Shelbi Felblinger with the BBB of Central Indiana.
Felblinger said she advises anyone who buys items online, whether on Facebook Marketplace or another resale site, that a little homework can help avoid the headache of buying fraudulent merchandise.
“Be sure to do your research and that will protect you in the long run,” said Felblinger.
Court records show the two suspects arrested this week, 30-year-old Kyle Walker and 28-year-old Destiny Lohman, are facing felony charges of organized retail theft.
State Senator Freeman said he hopes the new law deters others from committing the same crime.
“I mean the big picture message is knock it off and if you’re going to do it, understand this isn’t misdemeanor land anymore,” he said. “You’re going to play in felony world.”
Both suspects made their initial hearings Wednesday and were given cash bonds pending trial.