A couple who were caught trying to steal $2,388 worth of baby formula from a Palm Springs Walmart store brought their 9-month-old son along on the early-morning shoplifting spree, according to a Palm Springs police arrest report.
While his parents were jailed, the baby was placed in the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families, police said.
Sonya M. Barbour, 32, and her fiance, Glenn K.C. Martin, 31, were arrested by Palm Springs police at about 3:40 a.m. Thursday after a Palm Springs police officer and two Walmart employees saw Martin leaving the store with a baby stroller covered with a blanket. The baby wasn't in the stroller, police said. Instead, Martin had loaded it with about 15 to 24 cans of baby formula.
Both Barbour and Martin said they have been stealing baby formula for months and have been selling it for thousands of dollars, according to the arrest report. Both admitted they have pain pill addictions: Martin spends up to $125 a day on the addiction, while Barbour spends up to $90.
The case appears to be another in what retail loss prevention experts have said is a growing problem: organized retail theft. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said last week that large-scale, coordinated retail theft is a "big problem for our businesses" because it drives up costs. Experts say the crime costs U.S. retailers an estimated $30 billion a year. Bills that would increase sentencing in Florida are currently before the state legislature.
After a Palm Springs police officer stopped the couple as they tried to drive away from the Walmart, police saw 117 baby formula cans worth about $2,388.89 behind the front seats.
Both were questioned and handcuffed. In interviews, they talked about their baby formula theft operation, police said.
Martin said he's been stealing baby formula for six months and has made $90,000 by stealing about 500 cans a week from different stores. The stolen cans sell for about $9 to $15 each, both said.
Barbour said the cans are sold to a woman she meets in a Publix parking lot in the Palm Bay area, according to the arrest report. Barbour's estimate of the total cash haul was $25,000.
As for the pills, Martin said he takes three to five pills a day and pays $25 for each. Barbour said she takes three pills a day at $30 a pop, police said. She shoots their contents intravenously from hypodermic needles she buys from Publix grocery stores, she told police.
Martin and Barbour both face multiple charges, including fraud, shoplifting, organized dealing in stolen property, and child neglect. They were booked into the Palm Beach County Jail, and remained there Friday, with Barbour's bond set at $35,000 and Martin's at $43,000.