Costa Mesa woman accused of stealing over $ 300,000 in designer merchandise from SoCal stores

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Hundreds of thousands of dollars in allegedly stolen goods have been recovered from the home of a Costa Mesa woman accused of a series of high-end retail thefts, the California Highway Patrol said on Wednesday.

Ekatarina Zharkova, 38, was arrested last week. She is believed to have taken the merchandise – which included handbags and clothing from designers such as Gucci, Prada and Jimmy Choo – from stores in Southern California, according to a press release from CHP.

The California Highway Patrol released this photo of the merchandise it claims was stolen.

Investigators from the agency’s Retail Organized Crime Task Force targeted the woman after seeing her steal goods on multiple occasions and from different stores, authorities said.

Zharkova was arrested in her car at the South Coast Mall in Costa Mesa after allegedly stealing more than $ 3,500 in merchandise from Nordstrom Rack, according to CHP.

Investigators had followed the suspect to the store, where they saw her filling a basket with designer items and covering them with a coat before using a device to remove the security sensors, the statement said. She would then have left the store without paying for the merchandise.

A search warrant was served on the woman’s residence, which was “jam-packed in every room” with stolen goods, according to the CHP. The items still had their store labels and disabled safety sensors in place.

Photos released by the agency also showed a vehicle with its front passenger side, rear seat and trunk all filled with cargo.

In total, more than 2,300 stolen items with a total value of $ 328,683, officials added.

CHP posted this photo of the woman's car, which also appeared to be filled with allegedly stolen goods.
CHP posted this photo of the woman’s car, which also appeared to be filled with allegedly stolen goods.

Investigators say they believe the woman was going to sell the designer products online.

Zharkova was held in Orange County Jail on suspicion of robbery. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case and will decide whether to file a complaint in the case.

The CHP task force was recently chaired by Gov. Gavin Newsom to step up efforts to mitigate retail theft amid a recent spike in such crimes, many of which were armed robberies by so-called “flash mobs”.

In a statement released last week, the task force said it would “work with local law enforcement to aggressively investigate organized crime in the retail trade, make arrests and recover the goods. stolen from physical and online retail stores statewide. ”

Incidents of organized theft in retail can be reported online by visiting the website https://www.chp.ca.gov/notify-chp/organized-retail-theft-program.

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