Crime & Courts

Stolen goods worth thousands sold at flea market, 70-year-old woman in jail, Lexington Police say

Stolen good that were confiscated by the Lexington Police Department.
Stolen good that were confiscated by the Lexington Police Department. Lexington Police Department

A 70-year-old woman is in jail for her role in a scam where stolen goods were sold at a popular Midlands flea market, the Lexington Police Department reported Wednesday.

Investigators said “approximately $3,000-$5,000 of merchandise,” was shoplifted every week from a number of area businesses in the Town of Lexington.

The stolen goods, “mainly over-the-counter medications and personal hygiene items,” were purchased by Maria Lim Smith, which she would then sell “at the US #1 Metro Flea Market on Augusta Road in Lexington County ... and to other buyers around” South Carolina, police reported.

The Lexington woman was arrested Oct. 31 in a sting, and charged with “purchasing stolen goods from an agent of law enforcement, value greater than $2,000 but less than $10,000,” Police Chief Terrence Green said in a news release.

When she was arrested, investigators reported they recovered more than $15,000 worth of stolen merchandise at Smith’s home, vehicle and from the flea market.

Maria Lim Smith Lexington Police Department

The investigation began in August, when police worked on a series of shoplifting cases, according to the news release.

Several subjects were identified as the shoplifters, who were stealing the merchandise to “support a dependency on heroin,” police said.

The shoplifters would then sell the stolen items to Smith for “a small percentage of the retail value as payment,” before she would flip the products at the flea market, police reported.

The police reported they worked with corporate security teams from Walmart, CVS, Publix, Lowes, and Food Lion on an undercover operation. Using merchandise provided by the companies, “a series of successful controlled sales” of items valued at $5,000 were presented as stolen to Smith, who purchased them, according to police.

After she was arrested and taken to the Lexington County Detention Center, Smith was released on bond, police reported.

Lexington police are looking for a man who broke into the Barnyard Flea Market and a restaurant inside by scaling the building and kicking out ceiling tiles April 21. Investigators say he caused nearly $3,000 in damages.

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.