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2 busted, 1 sought after pilfering $10,000 from Stanislaus, San Joaquin stores, police say

The Manteca Police Department busted two of the suspects after they tried to steal more than $4,000 worth of fragrance from Ulta.

MANTECA, Calif. — The Manteca Police Department said they've made two arrests in an organized retail crime group that's pilfered $10,000 worth of items from stores in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

Police said Bakari Franco, 36; Rafael Martinez, 29 of Modesto; and a third suspect, only identified as a white man, tried to steal $5,000 in merchandise from Manteca stores on June 9. 

The bust happened as Franco and the third suspect allegedly ran out of Ulta in Manteca with $4,000 worth of fragrance before being met by police. Authorities said the two men tried to run into a waiting vehicle driven by Martinez, dropped the fragrance and ended up running through the shopping center.

Franco and Martinez were arrested, but the third suspect was not found.

According to police, the trio was also seen driving in the parking lot after stealing $500 in shoes from Famous Footwear and $500 in tools from Harbor Freight before trying to steal from Ulta. During the bust, police said they found the merchandise from Famous Footwear and Harbor Freight in the vehicle.  

The trio is suspected of multiple thefts from Ulta Manteca on June 5, 6, 7, and 9 where they targeted Ulta and Tilly's. Police said they returned five times in the same week.

They're also suspected of thefts at a Turlock Ulta that happened the same day as the theft in Manteca. Police said Ulta has outstanding theft cases on Franco at Modesto, Turlock, Riverbank, and Stockton stores over the past year for an estimated 16 other thefts.

The group is suspected to be responsible for more than $10,000 in known theft from stores in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. Police said Franco's arrest has helped other agencies close dozens of investigations.

"The group is believed to be active in retail theft daily in Stanislaus County and surrounding areas," the department said on Facebook. "Bakari and Martinez are suspected of being users of Fentanyl and use retail theft for financial gain."

Franco remains in custody on charges of Organized Retail Crime, Grand Theft, Obstruct/Resist an Officer and a felony warrant for Grand Theft from Modesto, pending court proceedings.

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