Man accused of buying toys and DVDs from stores for a fraction of their value

Police allege a Medicine Hat man found a way to manipulate the bar codes of DVD sets and action figures at big box stores in southwest Saskatchewan and southern Alberta to purchase them at a fraction of their retail price.

Big box store in Swift Current, Sask. among the retail outlets targeted

Medicine Hat S/Sgt. Cory Both stands next to recovered DVD sets and action figures allegedly purchased at a fraction of their retail price in a fraud scheme. (Supplied by Medicine Hat Police Service)

Police have seized over $30,000 worth of DVD sets and action figures they allege were purchased fraudulently from big box stores in southern Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan for a fraction of their actual value.

Police said stores in at least seven cities were targeted, including outlets in Calgary, Medicine Hat, Alta. and Swift Current, Sask.

Medicine Hat Police Staff Sgt. Cory Both said investigators allege the suspect manipulated the bar codes on the products and then paid for them at automated checkouts, with the intention of selling them later.

Both said it allowed the suspect to make the purchase without store staff noticing the discrepancy between the actual price of the items and what appeared on the register.

"For example, they would take a $140 action figure set and run it through the self checkout for like five bucks," he said.

Eventually, Both said, staff at a Medicine Hat store noticed something was up.

"It was caught by a store employee actually, not even a loss prevention officer, who could sort of observe what was going on and saw the $5 item coming up multiple times for these larger items," he said.

A 37-year-old man has been charged with one global count of fraud over $5,000 and possession of stolen property over $5,000.

Action figures that were seized include characters from Marvel superhero movies and Transformers movies, while the DVD sets include the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy as well as TV shows "Friends" and "The Office."

With files from Kelly Provost