A 28-year-old woman was arrested and charged with stealing more than $9,000 worth of DVDs from Fargo-area Wal-Mart stores, Forum News Service reports.
According to KVRR, court documents say Samantha Velez-Diaz – a Mexican national now living in Los Angeles – would position herself between store alarm units and act as a decoy, while a male cohort walked out with the DVDs. The thefts took place in 2012, at stores in Dilworth and Fargo.
Forum reports Wal-Mart employees notified police of missing DVDs in April of that year. The court documents say a man and woman were caught on surveillance tape working together to steal the discs.
A month earlier, Forum says, South Dakota state troopers pulled over Velez-Diaz and another man. The duo had a large quantity of DVDs with Wal-Mart tags, and neither could produce a receipt – leading investigators to think those DVDs may have been taken from a store in Vermillion, South Dakota.
KVRR says the operation may have stretched much farther – police believe the two stole a total of $100,000 worth of merchandise from Wal-Mart stores in five different states.
Velez-Diaz was arrested Tuesday. She's charged with aiding and abetting a theft, a felony. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison.
Back in 2007, the Associated Press reported Wal-Mart was losing $3 billion a year from thefts. Former employees told the AP the number of security members on staff had been reduced. Just last year, the Wal-mart store in Stapleton, Colorado lost $1.5 million to theft – putting it in the retailer's most-shoplifted bracket, the Denver Post reported.
Large-scale DVD theft has even hit libraries. Late last year, 22-year-old Nhia Vue of St. Paul was accused of using fake library cards to steal video games and DVDs from Ramsey County libraries. Authorities say Vue created library cards for 24 imaginary children, and checked out 50 video games, 41 DVDs, and 21 books over a period of three weeks in the summer of 2013. The items were valued at about $4,100.
“I didn’t look at it as stealing,” Vue said at the time. “I looked at it as borrowing. I thought I could pay them back on my taxes.”