Baby formula considered 'liquid gold' to shoplifters

MINNESOTA - Rochester police say they found 94 cans of baby formula on two people suspected of stealing it from two Target stores. The man and woman, both of Rochester, were arrested Monday.

Stealing formula for resale on a baby-food black market is a deeply troubling trend, crime experts say. Formula is always in demand and it’s expensive – cans typically range from roughly $14 to $34 – making it a longtime “staple” for theft rings.

Formula is such a hot commodity among sophisticated theft organizations that it’s been called “liquid gold.” Trafficking formula has become an interstate problem, drawn the attention of the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and spurred stores to invest in high-tech anti-theft devices.

The FBI earlier this year announced the breakup of a crime ring with ties to the Middle East that relied in part on the theft, repackaging and reselling of baby formula.

Four people from the Twin City metropolitan were recently arrested and charged for allegedly shoplifting merchandise from Wal-Mart stores in Spencer and Spirit Lake, Iowa, and re-selling the items. Spencer Police Chief Mark Lawson says the suspects are accused of taking hundreds of dollars worth of baby formula and tobacco products and re-selling the items in the Twin Cities area.

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