Elicia McCollum accused of stealing pricey items from vending machines

Police have made an arrest in a brazen theft targeting vending machines containing expensive electronics. Detectives say the suspect got away with thousands of dollars worth of items before she got caught.

You may have seen a high-dollar vending machine stacked with electronics like iPads and iPods in a Macy’s department store. You can simply buy the items with a credit card without any human interaction.

“It sounds cool to have an iPad come out of a vending machine,” says Maya Almasi.

For a big retailer, it’s a way to move products and prevent shoplifting, or so they thought. According to police, Elicia McCollum used her job as a kiosk stocker at the Macy’s in The Mall at Prince George’s to vend herself more than $13,000 in merchandise over the last two months.

“That’s like hiring a robber to guard the bank,” says Henri Jean-Baptiste.

When McCollum was arrested Tuesday, police found only about $1,000 worth of merchandise. The rest, they say, was sold through Craigslist ads that included the alleged thief’s real name. The head of the PGPD’s organized retail crime unit says the scheme was simple. It is alleged McCollum just kept products that should have gone in the machines, but it’s an example, he says, of an always-evolving criminal industry.

“You’re not going to be able to catch them the same way each time. They’re not going to stop,” says Sgt. Aubrey Thompson. “It’s good money so they’re going to come up with creative ideas and you have to stay one step ahead of them.”

Police also believe McCollum was stealing not just from the Macy’s in Prince George’s County, but also from the Macy’s at Metro Center. It’s likely she’ll face charges in the District, too.