Three Romanian women were transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody following arrests last week in a string of thefts from stores in Auburn Hills and Bloomfield Township.

“Immigration picked them up on a detainer” from Oakland County Jail following their June 13 arrests, Nick Soley, public information officer for Bloomfield Township Police told The Midwesterner. “They could be here illegally, but I can’t assume anything.”

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The thefts, caught on store cameras, involved four women with specially designed dresses with hidden pockets who worked as a team to swipe supplements, vitamins, and other items from Plum Market, Ulta, TJ Maxx, and other big-box stores, Fox 2 reports.

“What we see are what we call Romanian organized criminals,” Soley told the news station. “Ohio, Maryland, Arizona – they’ve been all over the country; at least this vehicle has.”


In one theft last week, the women stole an estimated $7,000 worth of supplements and vitamins from a Plum Market grocery store in Bloomfield Township, and police released video of that incident to help track them down.

“Stuffed into skirts false pockets inside – they have pockets sewn in, and as much as they can grab,” Soley said. “You’ll see them look directly into the camera and then look back down and continue what they’re doing.”

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Auburn Hills Police later identified a vehicle used in the crimes, which led to the arrest of three of the four women, Soley told The Midwesterner.

The fourth woman involved remains on the run.

Police recovered about $23,000 worth of stolen goods, including perfume, makeup, clothes and medicine, according to Fox 2.

“We know there’s probably a resale somewhere on it, but where exactly it goes and how they resell it – that’s a piece of the puzzle we haven’t quite figured out,” Soley told the news site.

Auburn Hills Police Lt. Jeremy Stubbs told The Midwesterner the women have not yet been arraigned on charges of first-degree retail fraud, and the department will not release their names or photos until they are. An investigation into the thefts remains open, he said.

“There was a significant amount of stuff recovered and … we’re still working through that, where it came from,” Stubbs said.

The women “obviously … weren’t residents of the United States,” he said.

“My understanding if there was a detainer from ICE, I would assume they’re not,” he said. “Typically, to put a detainer … they’re here illegally.”

The arrests are only the latest involving foreign nationals working in organized groups to target Americans and their businesses in southeast Michigan and beyond.

In December, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the arrests of three Chilean nationals involved in a series of home invasions in Ada Township, Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Hills, Grosse Pointe Farms, Rochester, and Rochester Hills, according to MLive.

“Home invasions don’t just threaten our property, they threaten our sense of security, and this ring has set entire communities on edge,” Nessel said.

The home invasions stopped for several months, but the break-ins resumed this spring, with the Chilean gangs targeting luxury homes in Oakland County.

“They are super well-trained when they get here, highly organized. They look like ninjas, they’re all masked up, gloves; they each have a backpack with their particular set of tools for their job in the burglary,” Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard told Fox 2.

The crimes, Bouchard said, are made possible by a Visa Waiver Program the sheriff is urging Congress to halt.

“All of the intelligence estimates – just from Chile – we have 100-plus teams in operation right now in America – teams of four to six,” he said.

“What we encourage Washington to do is top the Visa Waiver Program right now for Chile,” Bouchard said. “That doesn’t mean they can’t visit, but they just have to get a regular visa which comes with a little more scrutiny.”