EXCLUSIVE: Vancouver Police seize $50,000 of stolen baby formula intended for black market

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WATCH: The Vancouver Police Department's anti-fencing unit has recovered $50,000 worth of stolen baby formula. Rumina Daya reports – Nov 17, 2016

When most people think of international smuggling, they think of contraband items like illicit drugs or weapons but one item is increasingly making its way to the black market: baby formula.

Global News has learned the Vancouver Police Department’s anti-fencing unit has seized approximately $50,000 worth of baby formula stolen from retail stores across the city.

“Baby formula has consistently been one of our top categories for theft. It’s something we’ve seen over the last several years,” Tammy Smitham, VP of external communications with Shoppers Drug Mart, told Global News.

WATCH: Rumina Daya has the exclusive details of a bust by the VPD’s aggressive anti-fencing unit 
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Global Exclusive: Police bust baby formula smuggling operation – Nov 16, 2016

From the street level, stolen goods work their way up the food chain of organized crime. Stolen formula is sold to regional buyers who repackage the formula and ship it overseas.

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The biggest market is China where a can of formula can be resold for three times what it’s worth in Canada.

Smitham said Shoppers Drug Mart has gone to great lengths to deter thieves, including locking formula up alongside high-theft items like razors and perfume.

– With files from Rumina Daya