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Texas woman sentenced for million dollar shoplifting ring

By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - A Texas woman has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking part in an international shoplifting ring where members used oversized bags to steal millions of dollars worth of goods from high-end stores, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Eva Salazar, 49, pleaded guilty on Monday to second degree theft for stealing merchandise from stores including Victoria's Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Coach, said Trey Banack, the chief of the White Collar Crimes Division of the Bexar County District Attorney's office in San Antonio.

Salazar and three other women would enter shopping malls with bags that could hold deceptively large amounts and then "clear entire tables and shelves of merchandise," Banack said.

"They then delivered the merchandise to a fifth woman, who would sell the items through her online store," Banack said.

The ring hit malls in Austin, Houston and San Antonio, and also struck internationally, with suspected thefts in countries including Canada and Australia, he said.

The other four women have been indicted and were awaiting trial, he said.

Authorities seized goods from the group that included about $35,000 worth of perfume from Abercrombie and Fitch, undergarments and other items, some of which had been destroyed by rat droppings.

"This is definitely one of the largest thefts we have ever prosecuted,” Banack said.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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