Stores Bristle Over Lucrative Toothbrush Theft Ring

Sep 30, 2011 1:38pm

An alleged ring of Florida shoplifters found out what dentists have long known. Dental hygiene is a lucrative business.

Three suspects have been arrested and charged with swiping electric tooth brushes, replacement heads, whitening strips and other dental supplies from dozens of stores, and reselling them through eBay and a pawn shop.

The amount they allegedly sold the loot for would have brightened any thief’s smile.

“What we’ve identified is about $3.2 million was sold on eBay,” a detective for the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office told ABC’s West Palm Beach affiliate WPBF. “Through our records, we found that there’s over 100 transactions over a couple of months with one pawner and that person benefitted tens of thousands of dollars. What he benefitted and [what] was actually stolen is probably nine-fold.”

Igor Roytikh, 44, was the manager of Citi Pawn and has been charged with felony counts of dealing in stolen property, aggravated grand retail theft and organized scheme to defraud over $20,000. Roytikh allegedly knew that the products were stolen and amassed them in the shop to be sold.

Lauren Ann Healy, 23, and Brian Hegmann, 26, were also arrested. They executed the robberies with “a very specific and articulate pattern,” according to police records. Healy would enter the store and steal the products, while Hegmann drove circles in the parking lot and acted as the getaway driver when she would emerge from the store, police said.

Healy was charged with dealing in stolen property and organized scheme to defraud, and Hegmann was charged with dealing in stolen property.

 

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(Courtesy of Palm Beach Sheriff's Office)

The duo regularly targeted Walgreens, CVS, Publix and Bed Bath and Beyond stores in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. They allegedly stole from over 60 stores in the three counties.

Police were tipped off by a former accomplice who assisted in an on-going undercover operation that led to the arrests. The confidential informant worked with the sheriff’s office and organized retail crime teams working for CVS, Walgreens and Publix.

The informant was provided with dozens of products by CVS that posed as stolen products. The detective wrote his initials on the products in invisible ink to ensure that they were the same ones provided when ultimately delivered to the pawn shop.

They targeted high-end dental products including Phillips Sonicare electric toothbrushes, Crest White Strips and toothbrush replacement heads. And the loot was valuable. Each Sonicare toothbrush is $119.99 and a box of Crest 3D White Strips is $55.99. Healy would pick up dozens of products at each stop, totaling in thousands of dollars of products.

“We’ve seen this year in and year out,” a representative from the Organized Retail Crime Unit told WPBF. “This is a major issue across the country, not just the South Florida market.”

Roytikh has been released from jail on bond, but Healy and Hegmann are still in prison, according to the Palm Beach County Detention Center. Police say they expect to make more arrests as the investigation continues.

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