OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta Friday announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has secured the guilty pleas of two members of an organized retail theft ring operating throughout California, and filed charges against another individual allegedly involved in the scheme. These convictions and charges would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of numerous law enforcement agencies. The dismantling of this criminal network is the culmination of two years of cooperative efforts led by the California Highway Patrol’s (CHP) Organized Retail Crime Task Force. Between September 2020 and February 2021, defendants Anton Salaam and Marion Paul Tilley, and two other suspects committed retail theft at multiple JCPenney and Sam’s Clubs stores, resulting in approximately $1 million in losses to the stores.
“Organized retail theft costs businesses, retailers, and consumers – and puts the public at risk,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Brazen criminal activity, such as the organized retail theft operation we are taking action against today, will not be tolerated in California. As our state’s chief law enforcement officer, I am committed to aggressively pursuing and prosecuting those who break the law. Ending crime is a team effort. I am grateful for Governor Newsom’s commitment to this issue and I applaud the leadership of the CHP and the efforts of all of our law enforcement partners who worked on this case. I also urge consumers and the public to learn more about this issue at DOJ’s organized retail theft portal located at oag.ca.gov/retail-theft.”
To combat organized retail theft, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1065. Under this law, the CHP has partnered with DOJ to establish a regional property crimes task force and assist local law enforcement with resources, such as personnel and equipment. Governor Newsom also signed Assembly Bill 331 to extend CHP’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force until January 1, 2026.
“California is doing more than ever to crack down on retail theft, hold criminals accountable, and protect local businesses,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “I am grateful for the hard work of Attorney General Bonta and the CHP in their work to curb retail crime and ensure Californians feel safe.”
“The CHP is proud of the work of our Organized Retail Crime Task Force and our local law enforcement partners, the Department of Justice, and the retail industry. Together, we are identifying and investigating organized retail theft rings so those responsible can be brought to justice,” said CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray. “This case underscores the commitment of the CHP and local law enforcement agencies to enhance public safety throughout the state of California, and I extend my appreciation to all who worked so hard on this case, which resulted in these arrests.”
The suspects in this case entered stores by breaking and entering though exterior doors and stealing high-end jewelry in locations throughout California including Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Placer, Sacramento, San Bernardino, and Tulare Counties. The arrests and pleas are a result of an investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies that began in 2020. As a result of the investigation, officers located evidence in the defendants’ homes, including jewelry and cases used for sale. It is further alleged that the suspects were stealing the items to sell, exchange, or return them for value.
Salaam and Tilley pled guilty to a violation of organized retail theft. Salaam was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment. Tilley has pleaded guilty and agreed to a 16-month prison sentence but has not yet been formally sentenced. A third suspect has been charged with organized retail theft and child endangerment, as an illegal assault weapon was allegedly found in the presence of the suspect’s nine-year-old child. A fourth suspect was also charged with organized retail theft.
Attorney General Bonta brings this prosecution forward as a result of a collaborative multiagency investigation that included the CHP Organized Retail Crime Task Force, the Citrus Heights Police Department, Roseville Police Department, Fresno Police Department, Hanford Police Department, Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, Visalia Police Department, Bakersfield Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Folsom Police Department, Chino Police Department, and Bullhead, Arizona Police Department who apprehended two of the suspects.
California and states across the country have seen a pattern of organized retail crime. According to a 2020 national survey, U.S. retailers lose approximately $700,000 per every $1 billion in sales to organized retail crime. Attorney General has made this tackling this issue a top priority and today is launching a new online portal for the public to submit complaints and tips at oag.ca.gov/retail-theft. Attorney General Bonta and law enforcement partners throughout the state proactively collaborate to end organized retail crime. In December 2021, Attorney General Bonta announced the sentencing of a group involved in organized retail theft in the Bay Area. Also in December, Attorney General Bonta brought together retailers and law enforcement to address the challenge of organized retail theft and develop strategies for combating this criminal activity head-on. In March, Attorney General Bonta announced felony charges against members of a statewide organized retail theft ring and international shipping operation.
It is important to note that a criminal complaint contains charges that are only allegations against a person. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty.
Organized retail theft incidents may also be reported to the CHP online at: https://www.chp.ca.gov/notify-chp/organized-retail-theft-program.