A screenshot from surveillance video of six thieves stealing merchandise from the county liquor store in the White Oak area of Silver Spring on July 1. Credit: Montgomery County Police Department

Police on Thursday released footage of six thieves conducting a burglary July 1 at a liquor store in the White Oak area of Silver Spring. It was the latest episode in Montgomery County of what’s been termed “organized retail crime.”

Communiques from Montgomery County Police have referenced at least 21 commercial burglaries this year, a trend identified as “organized retail crime.” Since July 13, police have announced arrests in 11 of the thefts.

Around 5:49 a.m. July 1, police responded to the Montgomery County Liquor and Wine store, 11239 New Hampshire Ave., for a report of a burglary. The thieves arrived at the location in a black Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan and a black BMW 5-Series sedan and forced entry into the store, stealing an undisclosed amount of merchandise, police said.

The footage shows a chaotic scene as the six burglars run in and out of the store, filling their arms with items off the shelves and then dashing outside to fill the car trunks. At one point in the video, one of the thieves drops a bottle, shattering it on the floor. Also, an individual holding several boxes of drinks falls and tumbles over a door partitioning that section of the store.

Then, after only about a minute, they fled the scene in the Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

YouTube video

The burglary is an example of the trend, nationally and in Montgomery County, of organized retail crime: “the association of two or more persons engaged in illegally obtaining items of value from retail establishments, through theft and/or fraud, as part of a criminal enterprise,” according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations.


Organized retail crime resulted in theft of $68.9 billion in merchandise in 2019 in the United States, according to a joint report from the Retail Industry Leaders Association and Buy Safe America Coalition.

Late last year, Congress passed the INFORM Consumers Act, which will “add more transparency to online transactions and to deter criminals from acquiring stolen, counterfeit, or unsafe items and selling them through those marketplaces,” according to the Federal Trade Commission. It went into effect June 27.

Capt. Sean Gagen, head of the Major Crimes Division of county police, said it is important to recognize trends such as organized retail crime early on.


“Once we identify that there is a particular trend, we can do the hard work of identifying the suspects and share that information with our patrol districts so they can increase their resources in the impacted areas,” Gagen said.

Montgomery County police announced July 13 that six suspects had been arrested in a string of pack retail thefts. The two adults and four juveniles are accused of stealing large amounts of items from 11 county stores between April 28 and June 15 of this year.

“The brazenness of this group to commit these types of thefts here in our region should be a wakeup call for our community and those responsible need to be held accountable for their actions,” Gagen said.


Police said that the total loss suffered by the Montgomery County stores is $49,000. Police allege that, combined, the group hit more than 80 stores in Washington, D.C., racking up thefts of $22,000 at CVS and $24,000 at Macy’s.

“Ulta’s losses in Montgomery County and other jurisdictions totals $78,000,” police said in a news release.

According to the police, these are the county stores this group targeted, the dates and how many of them were involved in each robbery:

  • April 28: Sephora (seven suspects) Western Avenue
  • April 29: Target (seven suspects) Wisconsin Avenue
  • May 5: Target (three suspects) Wisconsin Avenue
  • May 5: Sephora (three suspects) Western Avenue
  • May 8: Ulta (eight suspects) Congressional Shopping Center
  • May 9: Target (three suspects) Wisconsin Ave
  • May 31: Sephora (four suspects) Pike and Rose
  • June 1: Sephora (four suspects) Western Ave
  • June 1: Nike (four suspects) Arlington Road
  • June 8: Nike (three suspects) Arlington Road
  • June 15: Ulta (four suspects) Congressional Shopping Center

Besides the White Oak theft this month, at least nine other commercial thefts were committed this year that police have not alleged as being associated with this group, including:

  • Claire’s on North Frederick Avenue on Jan. 10
  • Tobacco Hut & Cigar store on Columbia Pike on Feb. 4
  • Dollar City Plus store on New Hampshire Ave on Feb. 16
  • Dollar Tree store on Outlet Drive on March 8
  • CVS on Sangamore Road on May 10
  • 7-Eleven store on Clopper Road on June 2
  • Dollar City and More on Georgia Avenue on June 8
  • The Pearle Vision Store on Gramercy Boulevard on June 8
  • Tobacco Cloud Store on Georgia Avenue on June 14

The Montgomery County Police Department said that anyone with information about any of these thefts or the suspects should call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477); callers may remain anonymous, and there is a reward of up to $10,000 for anyone with information that leads to the arrest of the suspect(s).