Judge orders no bail for suspected baby formula thieves

Two women are seen stealing cans of baby formula at Lee's Marketplace in Logan. The Logan City Police Department suspects the women may be part of a nationwide ring that steals baby formula and then sells it on the black market. If you have any information about the women, or may have seen them in any local grocery stores, please contact the police.

LOGAN — Three people suspected of stealing baby formula from local grocery stores will remain in jail without bail, after a judge ruled the man and two women have no ties to the community.

The ruling in 1st District Court happened while 49-year-old Selford Velcu, 47-year-old Iolandaa Velcu and 22-year-old Elisabeta Zatreanu appeared Wednesday afternoon for a bail hearing with their attorney, Kevin Vander Werff. He told the court his clients deserved to have a bail amount set, noting that they had no prior criminal convictions and that Zatreanu was struggling in jail, being away from her husband and family in California.

State attorney Jacob Gordon opposed the request arguing the three suspects have no ties to the community and are in the country illegally.

As part of his argument, Gordon had the lead investigator, Logan City Police Lt. Rod Peterson, take the witness stand to testify.

Peterson told the court that investigators believe the three suspects are tied to seven baby formula theft cases in Cache County and are suspected of similar thefts along the Wasatch Front and around Idaho Falls, Idaho.

The three suspects were arrested by police during a traffic stop December 28, when officers noticed a white van that matched a vehicle seen driving after surveillance cameras caught them stealing formula from Lee’s Marketplace earlier in the month.

Peterson said investigators believe the three suspects were living inside the van. When they searched it, they found a mattress in the back and empty food containers. The middle seat had also been removed to give them more space.

It is believed the two women would enter grocery stores, wearing a kangaroo like pouch underneath their skirts. They would place the formula cans inside the pouches and then exit the stores.

Peterson said when officers searched the van they found a torn up rental agreement for a local storage unit. When they served a search warrant on that storage shed, they found five additional boxes of formula. In total, 466 cans have been recovered. It is valued at more than $8,000.

Judge Thomas Willmore sided with the prosecution, saying he was concerned that no one could answer why the three suspects were here. He scheduled a preliminary hearing for February 1.

<hr /><p style=”text-align: center;”>will@cvradio.com

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