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Retail theft ring busted for series of thefts in Stanislaus, San Joaquin counties
retail theft suspect
Police are still seeking an unknown third suspect in an organized retail crime ring that operated in Manteca, Turlock, Modesto and other cities in the Valley (Photo contributed).

Two men suspected of carrying out a string of retail thefts in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, including in Turlock that resulted in thousands of dollars in loss, were captured by the Manteca Police Department, while a third suspect remains at large.

Bakari Franco, 36, and Rafael Martinez, 29, both of Modesto were nabbed on June 9 fleeing the Ulta store in Manteca with $4,037 worth of stolen fragrances, according to the Manteca Police Department.

Bakari Franco
Bakari Franco

The police department said Franco and an unidentified white male were attempting to get into the getaway car, driven by Martinez, when a Manteca police detective stepped in.

Bakari and the male dropped the fragrance and fled through the shopping center. A K9 officer was brought in and was quickly able to find Franco hiding nearby. Franco was taken into custody while the detective took Martinez into custody.

The third male was not located and is being sought.

Franco and the third suspect are believed to have stolen $500 worth of shoes from Famous Footwear and $500 in tools from Harbor Freight prior to the theft at Ulta. Stolen merchandise from Famous Footwear and Harbor Freight was found in the vehicle.

“The group is known to hit several stores in the same area before leaving,” the Manteca Police Department said on Facebook.

The three men are suspected of carrying out a similar theft at the Ulta store in Turlock earlier that day.

The organized retail theft ring was being investigated by Manteca Police Detective Dave Brown, working with Ulta investigators. The men are suspects in multiple thefts from Ulta and Tillys in Manteca, targeting the stores five times in one week.

Rafael Martinez
Rafael Martinez

Ulta has outstanding theft cases on Franco at Modesto, Turlock, Riverbank, Tracy and Stockton over the past year for an estimated 16 other similar thefts.

The Manteca Police Department said Franco and the group are responsible for over $10,000 in known thefts from Ulta stores in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. 

Franco and Martinez are suspected of being users of Fentanyl and use retail theft for financial gain, according to the police department.

Franco remains in custody on charges of organized retail crime, grand theft, obstructing or resisting an officer and a felony warrant for grand theft from Modesto.

Martinez did not appear as being in custody at the San Joaquin County Jail and no charging information was available.