Women accused of stealing $100,000 worth of merchandise from Walmart

Two Arizona women are in custody after allegedly stealing more than $100,000 in merchandise from several Walmart stores by making it appear they had already paid for items through an app on their mobile phones.

Mary Garcia, 47, and Melinda Rodriguez, 38, were arrested June 17 and charged with multiple counts of organized retail theft, according to reports citing the Mesa Police Department.

The pair allegedly carried out the scheme in several Western states, including Arizona, California, Utah, Colorado and Texas, before they were eventually caught.

An investigation began in March when a loss prevention team noticed a “series of suspicious transactions” involving the store’s touch-free payment app called Walmart Pay.

The app, which the retail giant introduced in 2016, allows shoppers to pay for items using their phones instead of cash and debit cards.

In the self-checkout lane, shoppers are supposed to scan the items and then hold their phones over a QR code that displays on the register.

From there, a chime would indicate the purchase is confirmed, and there’s no need to wait for a receipt.

“The problem was once they reached the checkout, payment was bypassed, and they simply walked out with the unpaid merchandise,” the Mesa Police Department alleged. “By using the app, the suspect gave the appearance that they were paying for the items.”

In Maricopa County, Garcia is accused of walking out of Walmart stores with approximately $72,000 in stolen items, while Rodriguez had allegedly used the same method to steal approximately $34,000 in goods, according to FOX 10 News in Phoenix.

“Thanks to the strong partnership between Walmart and the Mesa Police Department, thefts like this are not overlooked. Thefts of this type can cause retailers to raise prices to compensate for loss. By arresting thieves who steal large amounts of merchandise, prices are kept at bay for the everyday honest consumer,” the department said.