The Dr. Phil Show aired a segment yesterday about a couple from San Marcos, California who are jobless and make a living by shoplifting, often in other states to avoid being recognized. The couple, identified as “Laura” and “Allen” have three small children and brag that they’ve made about $100,000 a year by stealing and re-selling stolen goods. The show billed them as “the most successful shoplifters on the West Coast” and they claim that they’ve amassed $1 million in stolen goods over the seven years they’ve been running this racket.
“Laura” and “Allen” revealed some of the bold ways they pilfer from stores, even inviting cameras to come along on a multi-state spree. Their methods include using store bags that they smuggle in, using their children as decoys, and running “buy 1 get one” schemes where one of them will buy an item and pass the receipt off to the other, who will grab a second item for free. They’ve never been caught.
The couple went on the show without disguising their faces or voices, and said they’re coming out with this now in order to stop their life of crime. Dad of three and professional thief “Allen” told Dr. Phil why they’re going public: ” Putting it out in the open and knowing that everybody has seen us now, it will help us to not want to go to the stores, because we’re going to feel like they’re going to recognize us now. I think it’s something to help us to stop, because my cover’s blown.”
It looks like “Allen” got his wish because his house got raided last week. His real name is Matthew Eaton:
A couple whose house was raided by a fraud task force may be linked to their appearance on the “Dr. Phil” television show.
A couple appeared on an episode of the TV show titled “Shoplifting Confessions” Nov. 19, saying they were “professional shoplifters” who have amassed nearly $1 million in stolen goods, according to the show’s Web site. They were identified as Laura and a man who used the names Matthew and Allen.
A lawyer representing Laura and Matthew A. Eaton of San Marcos said the couple appeared on the show in November, but declined to say whether they were guests on that episode or to discuss it further.
A spokesman for the San Diego Regional Fraud Task Force, which conducted the raid on the house on the 1400 block of Leslie Court on Thursday, wouldn’t disclose the reason for the raid or if it was connected to the TV show.
“It’s still early on in the investigation,” said Greg Meyer, special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service San Diego Field Office. “There have been no arrests at this point and no indictments at this point.”
According to the TV show’s Web site, a woman named Laura said the couple stole goods in other states, such as Arizona and Nevada, to avoid being recognized.
Allen/Matthew bragged on Dr. Phil about stealing “lots of Lego stuff.” TMZ uncovered his eBay account, in which he’s sold thousands worth of Lego goods and has a 100% positive rating.
Dr. Phil had an expert on the show that said these two aren’t kleptomaniacs because they steal items with the intention to resell and run a scheme, not for the pure urge to steal. Their crimes are federal because they crossed state lines to steal, and Dr. Phil’s security expert said they face “thousands” of indictments. You have to wonder why they decided to come forward now. They know they’re going to lose their kids if they both go to jail, which seems highly likely. They could have just stopped on their own and got jobs, but that way they wouldn’t have bragging rights and a brief taste of fame.