Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Newark Walmart hit with $1,117 loss in stolen baby formula

The innocuous man enters the store, he grabs not one, but two black garbage containers and begins to load Enfamil, the most popular form of baby formula into them. After exiting the store, he makes a second trip, another container and more Enfamil is cleared off the shelves.

A vehicle outside and a second ‘look-out’ is on standby, and the cans are unceremoniously thrown into the trunk of the vehicle. By the time Cory Smith, age 23, of 4500 Dewey Avenue in Rochester is done at the Newark Walmart, the store loses $1,117 in baby formula and another $39.41 in garbage containers.

Smith and his coconspirators did not travel all the way out of Rochester to Newark for just one hit on stores. By the time the day is done, numerous stores along the way have felt similar losses.

The baby formula is a hot, expensive item, easily resold, or traded for drugs, to small grocery stores dotting the inner city. The lucrative trade in baby formula has prompted organized gangs  to enter the trade. It is so lucrative and so costly a loss, that many stores keep the formula behind customer service desks, where customers must ask and pay for the baby food on demand.

According to national sources, the powdered baby formula is even used to cut/dilute powdered cocaine before it hits the streets. Large, organized gangs have taken to the internet, selling the stolen formula at discount prices to young families looking for a bargain.

Usually, with the amount of formula taken, it commands little more than a charge of Petit Larceny if the perpetrator is caught. But more and more desperate thieves, like Smith, are willing to take the chance and go for a huge amount in a single trip.

Stores, like Walmart, have keen eyes and surveillance cameras covering the counters where Enfamil is placed. Loss prevention personnel quickly become familiar with the faces and techniques, as do local police.

Even though the theft at the Walmart Newark store took place on June 28th, the surveillance video and subsequent ‘line-up’ shown to the loss prevention people led to Smith’s arrest. He had recent prior petit larceny arrests in Wayne County and was already in jail until his arrest by the Newark Police .

He was charged with Grand Larceny in the 4th Degree, a loss greater than $1,000. He was arraigned in Newark Village Court and remanded to jail on $5000 cash/$10,000 bond.

Of course, baby formula is a prime item on the list of major shoplifters, but Newark Police Chief, David Christler, has seen other smaller, expensive items cleared off shelves in a quick scoop. “We have seen them take as many razor blades as they can grab and sell them for a fraction of the cost to the corner “mom and pop” stores. Heroin addicts are dropped off at the stores, boost as much as they can, then walk out to Route 31 and meet up with someone. They (the heroin addicts) are then paid off with heroin.

Stores along the Route 31 corridor are often the victims of the professional thieves. If caught, the bosses of the crime simply drive off and leave the drug addicts/thieves to their own devices.

Macedon Police have been involved in several recent thefts from the Macedon Walmart that have led to foot chases, one by Smith on July 1st, where he was caught taking cases of Red Bull energy drinks and condoms. Big electronic devices, such as flat screen televisions, or game consoles and electronic games are other ‘big ticket’ items easily sold on the streets of the inner city.

What will happen to Smith? Most defendants, like Smith, have major police encounters and convictions. A year-long jail sentence, or finally some more serious state prison time are often seen as the cost of doing business. With Smith’s recent activities and arrests in just Wayne County, Chief Christler said state prison time is probably in his future.