Sixteen people have been charged in connection with what southern Indiana prosecutors are calling a “retail theft ring” that is accused of stealing millions of dollars worth of goods from area retailers.
Charged in the case are: Jeremy Ford, Kyle Philpott, Patrick Walsh, Kyle Jones, Dane Joseph Reiter, Lane Avery, Hilary Arney, Zachary Williams, Jourdan Baird, Eric Stucker, Robert Savage, Caleb Meeler, Lauren Wallace, Stephani Spain and Angela Bevins.
According to a news release from the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office, those people will be charged with corrupt business influence, a felony.
The news release states that Philpott, Walsh, Reiter, Ford and Avery are also charged with a criminal gang enhancement in the case.
Prosecutors say the Evansville Police Department started investigating a “series of high-end merchandise thefts” from local retailer earlier this year. The victims included several stores located in Eastland Mall.
Police connected a vehicle driven by a man who worked in the mall, Kyle Jones, to the series of thefts.
“With the cooperation of Jones, the investigation continued and the co-conspirators were uncovered,” the news release stated.
A total of 16 stores were hit, with thieves taking high-end vacuum cleaners, athletic apparel, high-end clothing, power tools, copper piping, flat-screen televisions and high-end purses and accessories, according to the news release.
The investigation also led to narcotics charges against Mario Butler, and two other men -- Michael J. Rupert and Kyle L. Hudson -- face federal charges for conspiring to commit (and committing) interstate transportation of stolen goods, according to the news release.
The investigation involved the FBI’s Southwest Indiana Violent Crime Task Force, the Evansville Police Department, the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office, the Indiana State Police and the Warrick County Sheriff’s Office.