Remember when the country was going through a prolonged baby formula shortage last year? After Abbott Labs shut down its main plant in Sturgis, Michigan, we quickly learned about the lack of diversity in the supply chain and how quickly the shelves could be emptied when so much production of a critical product is controlled by only a handful of suppliers. Thankfully, that situation has mostly been resolved at this point and few people have reported trouble in locating formula. But the word apparently didn’t reach 40-year-old Cynthia Lopez of Buena Park, California. Last week, she showed up at the local Target store and decided on a creative way to score some baby formula. She set another part of the store on fire and used the ensuing chaos to try to make off with a large supply of the product. This week she was identified and arrested. (CBS Los Angeles)
A woman has been arrested in connection to the large fire that broke out in the children’s clothing section of a Target store in Buena Park last week.
According to police, Orange County Fire Authority arson investigators were able to determine that the blaze was in fact intentionally set during a woman’s attempt to steal baby formula from the store.
The fire was initially reported back on September 5, at around 7:15 p.m. at the Target located on 7530 Orangethorpe Avenue. The flames did not cause any injuries, but shoppers reported heavy smoke and haze throughout the building.
This seems like yet another classic case of ‘What was she thinking?’ If we want to be generous, she may have assumed that the fire she set would only produce a little scorching and some smoke, setting off alarms and causing people to scramble, allowing her to make off with the stolen goods. And who knows? If it had worked out that way, she might have gotten away with it.
But instead, the fire quickly raged out of control before firefighters finally arrived. When the smoke cleared (both literally and figuratively), the store had suffered half a million dollars worth of fire and water damage to the structure and a million dollars worth of merchandise was lost. Without the fire damage, officials might not have invested much time and effort to locate a woman who stole a couple of hundred dollars worth of baby formula. But even in California, they’re going to hunt down an arsonist that causes this type of calamity. And now they’ve found her. She’s being held in the Orange County jail on $250,000 bail.
Some questions remain unanswered for now. Does Lopez even have a baby? Or was this yet another example of attempted retail theft for profit? Fox News has her mug shot and you can see that she has a couple of facial tattoos. But that doesn’t really mean anything these days or suggest that this was definitely some sort of gang activity. Also, there was no indication that she was acting in concert with others. The big retail theft gangs usually travel in packs to make it easier for at least some of them to get away, assuming anyone even bothers trying to catch them. Lopez seemed to be acting as a lone wolf here.
Speaking of organized retail theft in California, there has been some additional progress made lately. Just a few weeks ago, the Los Angeles Organized Crime Retail Theft Task Force struck again, arresting a man and a woman in their 40s from downtown Los Angeles. The task force raided a “fence location” in the area where the couple was selling stolen merchandise. They recovered nearly $200,000 worth of stolen goods. These two may not have actually engaged in any theft themselves, but they were selling products stolen primarily from CVS and Victoria’s Secret. There was no word as to whether or not any baby formula was involved.