About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy Terms of Use DMCA Opt-out of personalized ads
© Copyright 2023 Market Realist. Market Realist is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.

How This California Woman Ran $8 Million Shoplifting Empire Across America

53-year-old Michelle Mack reportedly ran the enterprise from her $2.75 million, 4,500-square-foot mansion in the San Diego foothills.
Cover Image Source: Fenty Beauty at ULTA Beauty | Getty Images | Kevin Mazur
Cover Image Source: Fenty Beauty at ULTA Beauty | Getty Images | Kevin Mazur

A California woman was recently accused of masterminding a nationwide shoplifting racket that stole millions of dollars worth of make-up and clothes from hundreds of stores for more than a decade. 

Michelle Mack, 52, reportedly ran the enterprise from her $2.75 million, 4,500-square-foot mansion in the San Diego foothills, as per authorities. 

She allegedly paid as many as 12 women to shoplift from stores across the country and then was stockpiling the hot goods. She was later selling them on Amazon, at a fraction of the retail price, via CBS.

Her gang, which is addressed as the 'California Girls', by investigators operated in stores like Sephora, and Ulta. Authorities also found a "mini-store" of goods worth $350,000 in a 5 am raid at her home. The authorities fear that the total hit to retailers may go beyond $8 million. 

Recovered items included, sunglasses and designer bags from her garage. 


"If you try to make an easy buck off of other people's hard work, we will arrest you and prosecute you," California Attorney General Rob Bonta said after the charges were filed, via Daily Mail. 

Attorney General Rob Bonta filed 140 felony charges against Mack, her husband Kenneth Mack, along with seven other members of the gang. Some of the charges are, conspiracy to commit organized retail theft, grand theft as well as a receipt of stolen property. As of the time of writing, all the defendants have pleaded not guilty.


"This is a multimillion-dollar criminal scheme. It was complex. It was orchestrated, we are not talking about garden-variety shoplifting." Rob Bonta added.

Investigators reportedly spent two years trying to get hold of the crime ring. They finally were able to successfully arrest two shoplifters in an Ulta store on the East Coast.

"The rise in organized retail crime affects all retailers, consumers, and communities," said Ulta vice-president Dan Petrousek, via Daily Mail.


One of the two arrested later revealed that they were working for a woman living in California. She also provided the list of stores that were her targets and the prices that she would be paid for stealing this item. A search of her phone then revealed the identity of Mack. 

One such message on the phone read, "Did you get some new girls? I need product so if you have anything please let me know."

It was later found that Mack was running an online retail outlet on Amazon called Online Makeup Store, offering more than 300 SKUs. As Mack faces criminal charges, her house complete with a swimming pool, four-car garage, and 31-acre vineyard is now on sale for $2.75 million after a $200,000 discount.

This story is indicative of how organized retail crime has become in the country. As per CNBC, retailers lost around $40.5 billion to external theft, which includes organized retail crimes. Retail giants like Walmart have been forced to close stores due to the increased number of theft cases in the past. However, the good news is that things are looking brighter. Some cities have reported a decrease in shoplifting and the prevalence of shoplifting remains less than was seen back in 2018-19. Some of the states to have the highest retail theft include Washington, Oregon, Louisiana, and Colorado.