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September 22, 2009

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Seven detained in supermarket thefts

CITY police detained seven people for allegedly stealing goods worth more than 30,000 yuan (US$4,393) from under the noses of cashiers in supermarkets.

The stolen goods included more than 200 boxes of fruit juice, cooking oil and rice, which were then sold at wholesale markets, Huangpu District police said yesterday.

The suspects were involved in similar thefts in at least five supermarkets, police said.

Staff in a supermarket in Huangpu called police after 236 boxes of coconut juice had been stolen in late July.

"At first, we suspected it was somebody working inside the supermarket who committed such a large theft," said police officer Lin Lin.

However, after studying the store's surveillance videos, officers found the gang simply distracted cashiers while stealing the goods.

Two members stayed at the checkout counter and distracted the cashier while two others would quickly give eight boxes of juice in a trolley to them.

They then slipped the juice boxes secretly to three others waiting outside the checkout area.

Lin said as many as 184 boxes of juice were stolen in one day.

Police tracked the suspects through some suppliers who would buy the stolen goods at a wholesale market in Putuo District. The suspects usually sold the goods immediately after the theft.

Police also found the suspects lived in Fengxian District during a three-week investigation.

On August 8, officers nabbed the seven suspects in a van they were using to transport the stolen goods.

Supermarkets said they would add more staff at checkout counters to prevent such losses.


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