CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Police have issued several arrest warrants after busting a retail theft ring that spanned four counties.

Nearly $15,000 in merchandise from Marshall’s stores was stolen between October and November. Nine people from Washington County are suspects.

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Stores were hit in Allegheny, Butler, Beaver and Washington counties.

“When we found out it was multi-jurisdictional, we contacted state police who assisted with us as well, primarily the organized crime unit,” said Sgt. Chuck Mascellino, of Cranberry Township Police.

Here’s how investigators say it worked: clothing items were stolen from a store by one alleged thief, and then handed off to another in the parking lot. That person would then return the merchandise in exchange for gift cards. The gift cards were sold to pawn shops or Cash for Gold stores for about 50 cents on the dollar.

However, store detectives caught up with the ploy.

“You see multiple returns by the same people, it kind of alerted loss prevention,” said Sgt. Mascellino.

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Authorities say there were slight variations as the suspects would trade parts, taking turns with the actual shoplifting, being lookouts or driving the getaway car.

Felony arrests warrants have been issued for Stacy and Shawn Lyle, Heather Dillon, Richard Stankowski, Andrew Sines and Rodney Shaw, all from McDonald, as well as Richard Rodgers, Jr., of Hickory, Cole Littleton, of Joffre, and Tomacina Walters, of Slovan. Most are in their 30s.

There may soon be more charges.

“There’s at least five other chain stores involved,” Sgt. Mascellino said.

Lowe’s Home Improvement stores are among them.

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