8 on Your Side: Baby formula on the black market

LAS VEGAS - Drugs and sex aren't the only commodities found on the black market in Las Vegas. Baby formula brings big bucks.

Thieves are ripping off stores such as Walmart, Von's, Smith's and Walgreens – boosting as much baby formula as they can. Some steal to feed their drug habit. Others do it to make ends meet. Few think they are doing anything wrong.

"I just think of it like Robin Hood… because these parents need it, and they can't afford formula," one thief said in a YouTube video.

Organized retail theft investigator Darin Fredrickson says each heist costs honest consumers.

"Some of these retailers are losing, easily, in excess of a million dollars just in formula alone," he said.

The retailers pass on the cost to customers, not just in formula prices, but in other products such as milk, bread and eggs. Studies show formula theft costs the average customer approximately $450 a year.

Parents are also selling the formula they get through the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program to make money. Tax dollars pay for the WIC program. One thief said he started selling his WIC formula, then decided to steal formula to make more money. He says he brings his children with him to assist in the heist.

"For some reason, with the kids, you can even put stuff in their hand and say, ‘Oh, it was my kid,' and throw it back and keep walking, and they will believe you," he said.

He told investigators that selling his WIC formula gained him $60. Stolen formula made him hundreds of dollars.

The black market operation goes much deeper. 8 on Your Side will have that part of the story Tuesday.

If you have a problem you want investigated, contact 8 on Your Side at 702-650-1907.


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