Woman accused of stealing over $ 300,000 in designer merchandise from SoCal stores

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Ekaterina Zharkova, 38, of Costa Mesa, has been charged with four counts of robbery, one count of receiving stolen property and seven counts of petty theft after stealing more than $ 328.00 allegedly between October 7 and November 23.

Southern California woman was charged Friday with multiple crimes after stealing more than $ 328,000 in merchandise from designers including Jimmy Choo, Gucci and Prada, as state continues to be plagued by burglaries and shoplifting.

Ekaterina Zharkova, 38, of Costa Mesa, has been charged with four counts of robbery, one count of receiving stolen property and seven counts of petty theft, according to the office of the Orange County District Attorney.

The suspect, of Russian origin, also has other felony charges related to robbery in Orange and Los Angeles counties. She is wanted under a $ 320,000 warrant after failing to appear in court on the charges Friday.

Zharkova is also accused of robbing several TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack stores in Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley and Tustin, between October 7 and November 23. She would have walked into stores with empty bags and filled them with items worth thousands of dollars before. she would leave without paying.

However, after an investigator observed her stealing more than $ 3,500 worth of clothing from a Nordstrom rack in Costa Mesa, Zharkova was arrested on November 23 by the organized retail theft from the California Highway Patrol.

Zharkova would go to malls, stocking carts with designer items before removing the safety sensors, according to investigators who followed her closely.  She then allegedly left the store without going to the cash register.

Zharkova would go to malls, including the South Coast Plaza, and fill carts with designer items before removing the security sensors and leaving without paying.

Prior to her arrest, Zharkova allegedly filled a basket with designer items before covering them with a coat and using a device to remove the security sensors, according to investigators who followed her closely. She then allegedly left the store without going to the cash register.

Investigators then followed Zharkova to her car, parked at the South Coast shopping center, before arresting her. Two days later, she posted $ 20,000 bail and was released, according to records from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

The suspect then received a search warrant for her home, which was “crammed wall to wall in every room” with stolen props valued at more than $ 328,000, CHP reported.

Some of the stolen items even still had their anti-theft sensors and price tags on them.

CHP agents also shared photos of Zharkova’s vehicle with its front passenger side, back seat and trunk on social media, all filled with suspected stolen items.

The items Zharkova stole photographed from the front passenger side of her car

The backseat was stocked with luxury goods, including a Louis Vuitton bag

California Highway Patrol agents shared photos of Zharkova’s vehicle with its front passenger side, backseat and trunk all filled with stolen items on social media

Zharkova was arrested in her car at the South Coast Mall in Costa Mesa after allegedly stealing more than $ 3,500 in merchandise from Nordstrom Rack.

Zharkova was arrested in her car at the South Coast Mall in Costa Mesa after allegedly stealing more than $ 3,500 in merchandise from Nordstrom Rack.

The California Highway Patrol released this photo of the merchandise it claims was stolen.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars in allegedly stolen goods were recovered from the home of Ekaterina Zharkova, accused of committing a series of thefts from high-end retail businesses, according to the CHP.

The California Highway Patrol released this photo of the merchandise it claims was stolen. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in allegedly stolen goods were recovered from the home of Ekaterina Zharkova, accused of committing a series of thefts from high-end retail businesses, according to the CHP.

California Proposition 47 – lighter sentences for thieves

Proposition 47 was passed by California voters on November 5, 2014.

He turned some “non-violent” property crimes, where the value of stolen property does not exceed $ 950, into misdemeanors.

It has also turned some “simple” drug possession offenses into offenses and allows previous convictions on those charges to be reduced to a misdemeanor by a court.

Under California law, however, if two or more persons conspire to “cheat and defraud any person or property, by any means which are in themselves criminal”, they cannot face more than one year in prison. county, a fine of $ 10,000 or a combination of the two.

Investigators said they believed the suspect was selling the items for later resale at an online luxury goods consignment store, potentially at a higher price.

“Shoplifting and other retail thefts are out of control across California due to reckless laws that have made the risk far less than the potential reward,” OC District Attorney said , Todd Spitzer, in a press release.

“These are not victimless crimes and if you engage in these kinds of outrageous theft schemes, we are going to arrest you, we are going to sue you and put you behind bars.”

Zharkova’s arrest came before Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore on Thursday said more than 150 home thefts have been reported so far in 2021, at the cost of two deaths. Many victims were targeted for wearing expensive jewelry or driving luxury vehicles.

Moore added that 36 arrests have been made so far in connection with the home thefts. Some of the arrests came after detectives tracked down suspects on social media who posted photos of themselves with the stolen goods and bragged about them.

“There is a sense of absence of consequences among a number of these suspects,” Moore told KTLA-TV. “We take these cases of violence very seriously. ”

Nordstrom at the South Coast Plaza shopping center in Costa Mesa, one of the stores where Zharkova stole thousands of dollars worth of accessories from

Nordstrom at the South Coast Plaza shopping center in Costa Mesa, one of the stores where Zharkova stole thousands of dollars worth of accessories from

In an unrelated incident, a suspect wields a hammer during a robbery at a jewelry store in Los Angeles in November

In an unrelated incident, a suspect wields a hammer during a robbery at a jewelry store in Los Angeles in November

On November 22, about two dozen thieves forced their way into an LA Nordstrom, taking $ 5,000 in merchandise.  A CVS pharmacy in town was hit an hour later, where looters stole $ 8,000 from a cash register

Los Angeles Police said at least 20 people used sledgehammers to smash the window of a Nordstrom on November 22 and ransack its shelves before fleeing. Fourteen suspects were arrested last week in the brazen heist, but have since been released

Crime in Los Angeles is on the rise, according to police statistics.  Homicides increased 46%, auto thefts increased 53% and shootings increased 51% in Los Angeles compared to the same period through November 27, 2019.

Crime in Los Angeles is on the rise, according to police statistics. Homicides increased 46%, auto thefts increased 53% and shootings increased 51% in Los Angeles compared to the same period through November 27, 2019.

There have been 7,542 flights in Los Angeles this year through Nov. 27, according to the most recent data from the LAPD, which is a 3.9% increase over last year.

There have been 7,542 flights in Los Angeles this year through Nov. 27, according to the most recent data from the LAPD, which is a 3.9% increase over last year.

The Los Angeles Times reported that thefts in the city have increased 3.9% since 2020. But in the Melrose Avenue shopping district in West Hollywood, shoplifting has increased by 20%.

Home robberies represent an increase in violent crime that has not been seen in the region “for decades,” Moore added.

In response to the rise in crime, LAPD formed a special task force and issued a list of recommendations to help people avoid becoming victims.

Recommendations include not wearing flashy jewelry or watches, remaining aware of the surroundings, and calling 911 if there is any suspicion that you are being followed at home.



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