Australian police swoop on baby formula theft gang

SYDNEY (DPA) - Australian police said on Monday (Jan 21) that they had swooped down on a baby formula theft gang, charging five people with stealing more than A$1 million (S$970,000) of the powdered baby food and vitamins destined to be sold overseas.

A 31-year-old man was arrested at Sydney International Airport when he arrived from China last Saturday and charged with dealing with the proceeds of crime and being part of a criminal group, police said in a statement.

He was the most recent arrest in a year-long investigation into stolen baby formula and vitamins that are on-sold to clients overseas, police added.

In one raid on a Sydney home in August, police found 4,000 tins of baby formula, vitamins and manuka honey alleged to be stolen, and A$215,000 in cash. Several people are facing court over that matter.

Australian baby formula can fetch a high price in China where there are fears about the safety of locally made baby food.

Supermarket shoppers in Australian cities have been surprised to see groups of Asian people rush shelves to snap up baby formula tins.

The tins are then posted to relatives or clients in China at inflated prices.  

Some supermarkets have had to limit the number of tins customers can buy so that other customers can obtain them.