General Crime

A Family Affair Organized Retail Theft Caught on Camera-Watch Video Here


This investigation involves a family, including mother, two daughters, a son and a son in law, all over the age of 18, operating as a group or subset of the larger group to steal goods from local retailers with the purpose of trading some for drugs and the rest for sale at their home through yard sales.

Watch Video Below

From November 2013 until July 2014 the suspects entered various retail businesses around the valley and stole primarily lingerie and other clothing/items from the businesses. In June 2014 Phoenix Police detectives from the Business and Economic Stability Team B.E.S.T. began gathering information and evidence against the family. Detectives performed surveillance operations and made purchases from the family at their yard sales. Detectives learned the suspects would often distract employees of the businesses in order to commit the thefts.

In one instance, Terri Vargas and Mario Vargas committed a theft at Arrowhead Mall. When the suspects exited the mall they were confronted by mall security. At that time Mario Vargas produced a large “pepper spray” device and sprayed the security guard repeatedly as they escaped capture. This incident is indicative of the level of violence to which some suspects are willing to go in an effort to avoid apprehension.

On August 8th, 2014 Phoenix Police detectives and the Special Assignments Unit served a search warrant at the suspect’s residence and all were taken into custody. Many stolen items were recovered during the search, including some still containing the sales tag and security device.

Once again, it is these type property crimes for financial gain and illegal drug support that pose a danger to our citizens and that have a profound effect on our economy. The Phoenix Police Department will continue to pursue these type offenses in an effort to keep our community safe.

Alleged Suspects
Jose Alvarez-Burgos, Hispanic, male, 23 years of age T104220
Terri Yvette Vargas, Hispanic, female, 25 years of age T104222
Lizzette Vargas, Hispanic, female, 27 years of age T104223
Mario Vargas, Hispanic, male, 28 years of age T104221
Elizabeth Rodriguez-Alvarez, Hispanic, female, 48 years of age T104225

Related Charges not all suspects charged with each offense:

Fraud Schemes/F2, Illegal Control of an Enterprise/F3, Aggravated Robbery/F3, Organized Retail Theft/F3, Trafficking in Stolen Property/F3, Assault/M1

Location: 9600 W. Heber area/single family residence, yard sales.

Retail Monetary loss: $15,660.00

Known retail stores victimized: Victoria’s Secret, Dillard’s, Ulta, Express, Charlotte Russe, and Aeropostale valley wide.

The Family – Elizabeth Rodriguez-Alvarez is mother to Terri Vargas, Lizzette Vargas and Mario Vargas. All live in the same home as does Jose Alvarez-Burgos who is married to Terri.

Absolutely disgusting to spray the security guard.

We are glad Organized Retail Crime is being taken seriously. It affects all of us with price inflation and the store employees who suffer salary wise.

Good job City of Phoenix Police Department.

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