Mother and Daughter Indicted on Charges They Ran Organized Retail Theft Ring That Stole Expensive Cosmetics and Returned Them for Cash

The Division of Criminal Justice obtained a state grand jury indictment on Oct. 18 charging Caroline Britt, 47, and her daughter, Breanna Britt, 23, both of Irvington, N.J., with the following crimes, all second-degree offenses:

In addition, Caroline Britt was charged with second-degree theft by deception. Caroline Britt currently is being held in the Bergen County Jail on unrelated charges. An arrest warrant has been issued for Breanna Britt.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. The indictment alleges that from 2011 through 2013, Caroline and Breanna Britt ran an organized retail theft enterprise that shoplifted cosmetics from Ulta stores and returned them to JCPenney stores, obtaining a total of approximately $107,000 from JCPenney for the stolen makeup and other products.

Caroline and Breanna Britt allegedly used a group of associates in their ring. Caroline, Breanna or an associate allegedly would shoplift expensive cosmetics from Ulta stores, including stores in New Jersey. Ring members then allegedly returned the stolen goods to JCPenney stores, which sell the same types of cosmetics at their cosmetics counter. The members initially received JCPenney store credit, but it is alleged that through additional transactions and the fraudulent altering of receipts, they ultimately converted the store credit into cash. When conducting the transactions at JCPenney stores, ring members allegedly presented fraudulent driver’s licenses, sometimes using stolen identities.

“Alleged thieves like the Britts would have little to deter them if they only faced shoplifting charges, but by uncovering the full scope of their activities, we’ve charged them with serious crimes,” said Attorney General Porrino. “We’ll continue to work closely with the industry to prosecute these criminal enterprises aggressively.”

“Shoplifting was the same as stealing cash for this mother and daughter duo, once they devised this alleged scheme,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Schemes like this are one reason why organized retail theft costs retailers across the United States billions of dollars per year.”

Deputy Attorneys General Janet Bosi and Jacalyn Estrada presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. The lead detectives were Detective Roxanna Ordonez-Fresse and Detective Cheryl Smith. Attorney General Porrino thanked JCPenney Asset Protection Investigations for their valuable assistance in the investigation.

Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Shoplifting is graded as a second-degree crime under New Jersey law when it involves thefts totaling more than $1,000 in merchandise committed as part of an organized retail theft enterprise. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Passaic County, where the defendants will be arraigned at a later date.

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