WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A Wichita Falls police car was almost hit by a van reportedly containing stolen baby formula on Saturday, August 12, 2023.
Valentin Lupeanu, Madalina Chiciu and Catalina Chiciu are charged with organized retail theft over $2,500.
On Saturday night, an officer on Jacksboro Highway said he saw a maroon van backing out of the parking lot of the United Supermarket and continuing in reverse down Glendale and onto Jacksboro Highway without stopping at the stop sign.
The officer said he had to stop to avoid running into the van.
As he made a traffic stop and began identifying the three occupants, he said a United security officer arrived on the scene and showed surveillance photos from four days prior.
The surveillance footage shown was from the United on Iowa Park Road. It showed the same three suspects there when 61 cans of formula were stolen, and them leaving in the same van.
In this case, also, the van, which had no front license plate, backed out of the parking lot, possibly so the back plate would not be recorded on camera.
The United employee told police she had called 9-1-1 when she spotted the same suspects at the store on Jacksboro Highway.
Police then searched the van and say they found 115 cans of formula, valued at $2,955.
Police also learned of another formula theft from a United store in Houston the day before. Reportedly, a license plate reader recorded the same license plate on the van there, and Lupeanu admitted being in Houston the day before.
An officer said Lupeanu claimed a Catholic charity had purchased all the formula from Amazon and gave it to them.
Since nationwide shortages of baby formula began during the Covid pandemic, prices have risen substantially for the last couple of years.
This is a developing story. Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for updates as more information becomes available. All individuals charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.