Crime doesn’t pay – unless you are shoplifting from Victoria’s Secret, that is.
A Florida woman, Nathilia Hooks, made a good living for over a year by shoplifting lacy underthings and other items from Victoria’s Secret stores in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, and then selling them back to the store.
After removing the security devices, Hooks would bring the stolen items back to the cashier and exchange them for slightly higher-priced dainties, charging the difference on her debit card.
According to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, the crafty crook would then take the more expensive items to another Victoria’s Secret store and get a full refund, which was credited to her debit card.
Hooks started the scam in 2013 and managed to rake in $53,000 before Victoria’s Secret loss prevention fraud investigators grew suspicious of multiple returns on her card in January of this year.
Victoria’s Secret wasn’t Hooks’ only target though; apparently she was an equal opportunity thief with a history of arrests for petty and grand theft and larceny as far back as 1993.
Authorities started searching for her in the current shoplifting spree after she was caught on surveillance tape stealing from a Sunglass Hut in the Aventura Mall. Aventura police circulated flyers with her picture and were contacted by a number of other agencies who assisted in the search.
Police Detective Olga Burns told CBS Miami, “We have been working on cases involving her since last November.”
Hooks, who is charged with retail theft, organized fraud, and money laundering/unlawful proceed, managed to elude police until Friday, when she finally turned herself in after learning there was a warrant for her arrest. Her lawyer told the judge at a hearing to set her bond that Hooks had pulled the scam at least 255 times at 37 different Victoria’s Secret stores over the past year and a half.
The judge decided her hard work was worth a $260,000 bond.
Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Shireen Bruggeman said, “We have a strong case against her and we have surveillance tape from her from some 30 stores,” including one tape that shows Hooks removing anti-theft devices from lingerie with a screwdriver.
Hooks isn’t the only one making a living off stealing from Victoria’s Secret. The CT Post reports that the Fairfield, Connecticut, store has provided quite a good haul for other lingerie thieves. Local police say that the store’s bras and panties are a hot commodity in the area, and professional shoplifting rings are helping themselves to several thousand dollars’ worth of zebra-striped, leopard-skin, and frothy lace underthings from the same store every year.
Strangely, shoplifting seems to be in vogue lately. The Inquisitr has reported on several celebrities who decided to help themselves to merchandise in the past few months – including the recent charges against Amanda Bynes.
[Image via Amy Chan]