What is believed to be one of the largest local shoplifting rings in at least four decades has been broken up by Oakland County detectives, officials announced Wednesday.

Five people have been arrested in connection with the ring: Shah Abullais Khalish, 28, of Hazel Park and Delwar Miah, 23, of Detroit, are believed to have been the ringleaders, and April Lynn Cooper, 29, and Sandra Gale Cooper, 47, both of Warren, and Shantell Danne Collins, 24, of Detroit, were also charged.

The suspects are believed to have been part of a $3 million-plus retail fraud ring — the largest such operation that Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard has ever seen.

“The scope and size” of the operation is “amazing,” Bouchard said during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

Bouchard’s law enforcement career began in the 1970s.

Investigators seized merchandise believed to have been stolen from multiple retailers, including CVS, Walgreens and Victoria’s Secret.

The investigation began as a drug case, as the Sheriff’s Office’s Narcotics Enforcement Team received a tip about people who were possibly selling pseudoephedrine for use in methamphetatmine production.

NET investigators soon determined that the suspects were not selling pseudoephedrine but were stealing between $9,000 and $15,000 worth of merchandise, per person, per day.

“This was great work by the detectives to follow a case where it goes, and they’ll continue to do that,” Bouchard said.

The merchandise was taken to a warehouse on Dequindre near 8 Mile Road in Hazel Park, and it was sold on Amazon, eBay and other online retailers.

“A lot of this (theft) was right out the front door,” Bouchard said, adding that those who commit retail fraud often have special “boosting” clothes with compartments sewn into them.

Investigators obtained search warrants on March 19, watched the suspects steal items from CVS and Walgreens and arrested all five suspects, officials said. More than $9,000 worth of merchandise was found in the suspects’ vehicle.

A search of the warehouse followed. The building contained more than $3 million worth of Victoria’s Secret merchandise, along with $30,000 worth of CVS and Walgreens merchandise and $100,000 in other brand name products. Investigators also seized $75,000 in cash from the building.

“This warehouse was a substantial warehouse,” Bouchard said.

“They bought this warehouse about nine months ago with $200,000 in cash. They were generating that much money that they could plunk down $200,000 in cash.”

Seven semi trucks were needed to empty all the merchandise from the building.

The operation crossed state lines, as most of the Victoria’s Secret items came from Las Vegas, Bouchard said.

He could not reveal the exact details of where the items came from and said more charges could be forthcoming.

It is unclear how long the operation had been in place but the time frame is likely measured in years, Bouchard said.

All five suspects are charged with two counts each of organized retail crime and one count each of receiving and concealing stolen property. Bond was set at $300,000 for both Khalish and Miah, while the Coopers and Collins received $50,000 bonds. All five have been released on bond and are next scheduled to appear in court at 1:30 p.m. April 25 in front of 44th District Judge Derek Meincke.

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