Maria Lim Smith, 70, of Lexington, has been arrested, according to a statement from Lexington Police Chief Terrence Green that was released Wednesday. She is charged with purchasing stolen goods from an agent of law enforcement, with a value greater than $2,000 but less than $10,000.
In early August, detectives of the Lexington Police Department began working on a series of shoplifting cases that involved over-the-counter medications and other merchandise that had been stolen from several businesses in the Town of Lexington. Through their investigation they were able to identify several subjects who were shoplifting approximately $3,000-$5,000 of merchandise each week in the Town of Lexington and Lexington County to support a dependency on heroin.
As a result of this investigation, detectives were able to identify Maria Smith. She was known, said police, to purchases stolen goods from those who shoplift, giving them a small percentage of the retail value as payment. She would then re-sell the stolen merchandise at the US No. 1 Metro Flea Market on Augusta Road in Lexington County, and to other buyers around the state.
Detectives with the Lexington Police Department, one who is an agent of the Lexington County Multi-Agency Narcotics Enforcement Team, began working with corporate asset protection investigators who provided merchandise and other support to further this investigation. Over the course of several weeks, detectives and asset protection investigators conducted a series of successful controlled sales of merchandise, valued at approximately $5,000 in total, which were presented by confidential informants as being stolen to Maria Smith during each transaction.
Search warrants were executed at the US No. 1 Metro Flea Market, along with the residence and vehicle owned by Maria Smith, where over $15,000 worth of stolen merchandise was recovered. The items recovered were mainly over-the-counter medications and personal hygiene items.
On Oct. 31, Maria Smith was arrested and she was transported to the Lexington County Detention Center. At Lexington County Bond Court, she was given a personal recognizance bond.
Green commended the work of detectives in this case while also thanking Walmart Global Investigations, CVS Health, Publix Supermarkets ORC Investigations, Lowes Foods Asset Protection and Food Lion Retail Business Services Investigations as their combined support was essential in bringing this investigation to a close.