Police say the thieves could be part of a group stealing expensive liquor and selling it for well-below market value to buy drugs.
Some vigilant employees have helped lead to the identification of two suspects.
“We started noticing stuff a couple of weeks ago,” said Capt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.
Area grocery stores such as Leppink’s in Ferrysburg and Meijer in Grand Haven Township reported shoplifters taking liquor such as Patron tequila, a fifth of which sells for $52.99 a bottle.
Through cooperation with other police agencies, it was learned the D&W Fresh Market store in Grand Haven was also targeted, Bennett said.
“We’re working with other agencies to see if they had similar incidents,” he added.
Police questioned two women from Muskegon and Muskegon Heights after officials at one of the grocery stores identified them as liquor thieves.
Police responded to Leppink’s in Ferrysburg at about noon July 23 when store employees recognized some women as being in the store the previous day when several hundred dollars worth of liquor was stolen.
A Leppink’s spokesperson said clerks found empty boxes shoved back in the shelves two nights in a row. They reviewed surveillance film and saw the women pulling bottles out of boxes and shoving them into their purses.
“You can see them in the surveillance video grabbing bottles off the shelf left and right,” the store spokesperson said. “They left the store with their purses bulging.”
Employees watched the video and alerted store managers when the women returned the next day.
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