Retail Crime Unit makes first prosecution in $50k retail theft case

Nov 17, 2023, 7:34 AM

retail theft...

WA Attorney General Bob Ferguson (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

The Attorney General’s Office charged Shawn Nanez in King County Superior Court with felony first-degree organized retail theft, marking the first criminal prosecution under Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s newly minted Organized Retail Crime Unit.

The criminal charges stem from 11 thefts which totaled more than $50,000 in merchandise from Target stores in King and Kitsap counties. The 11 thefts occurred in a two-month period between April and May 2022.

More from WA Attorney General: AG Ferguson announces over $2M in recoveries for student borrowers

“Video footage showed Nanez using a tool to break into security cases that contained electronic items like speakers and headphones,” the Washington State Office of the Attorney General wrote in a prepared statement. “He then took the items out and loaded them into a shopping cart. He walked out of the stores without paying for any of the items. After his arrest on June 3, 2022, Nanez told investigators he sold the merchandise to a third party for cash.”

Nanez, 33, is from Bremerton. He’s been charged with first-degree organized retail theft. Kitsap County Superior Court also filed a charge of first-degree organized retail theft against Nanez.

If convicted, Nanez faces a prison sentence ranging from four years and three months to five years and eight months, alongside a $20,000 penalty for each count.

Washington ranks as the state the most impacted by retail crime, according to Forbes, with Wyoming being the least impacted.

“Our new unit is hitting the ground running and pursuing cases as we hire our team,” Ferguson said. “This is the first of what we hope will be many cases bringing accountability to this significant and growing problem.”

More on organized retail theft: Organized retail theft leads to higher prices in the long run

Ferguson created a central Organized Retail Crime Unit earlier this year. The unit, made up of 10 people unit, including investigators, prosecutors, paralegals and data analysts, was created to assist with investigations and deploy resources where they are most needed. According to The Attorney General’s Office, the unit can prosecute cases referred to the office by county prosecutors.

“I applaud the Attorney General for creating the Organized Retail Crime Unit,” Bellevue Police Chief Wendell Shirley said. “It’s precisely the proactive and focused statewide approach we need to combat this ongoing problem.”

On Thursday, Ferguson selected Assistant Attorney General Kent Liu as the leader of the Organized Retail Crime Unit. Liu is a criminal prosecutor who worked for the Attorney General’s Office for more than 15 years.

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