When California Highway Patrol investigators were tipped off on three suspicious packages filled with Lululemon Athletica merchandise, they decided to hand-deliver them to their final destination. Upon arriving at the La Habra apartment and seeing other similar looking boxes, the cops obtained a search warrant and recovered 1,861 items adding up to a considerable $203,688 worth of sporty apparel.
According to a CHP Instagram post showcasing the seized loot, a Lululemon representative called the sting “the largest recovery of stolen items in the company’s history.”
The product had been stolen from various Lululemon locations in Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin. In the post, CHP clarified that “the investigation is on-going, and the apartment residents claimed no knowledge of what the boxes contained.”
The bust comes at a time when Lululemon has seen tremendous growth, bringing in $6.3 Billion in 2021, up from $4.4 billion the year before, but also in a time when retail-theft has been on the rise across the country.
In New York City, for instance, retail theft complaints have risen 16 percent from 2019 to 2021 according to the Wall Street Journal, but the rate at which suspects are arrested or identified has dropped.
Derek Friedman, owner of chains Sportsfan and Sock Em’ Sock Emporium, recently told CNBC that “our average losses to theft before the beginning of the spike in 2019 were $2,000-$3,000 per month.” Losses are now averaging “about 8,000 a month.”
In late 2021, Walgreens went as far as closing several locations in San Francisco, with a spokesman telling the Associated Press, “Retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average.”
Lawmakers have also stepped up their legislative fights against the rise in retail theft. California’s proposed AB 331, a bill focused on fighting organized retail crime, was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last July, extending the CHP Border Division’s Organized Retail Crime Taskforce, which was responsible for the Lululemon bust.
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