Woman allegedly stole thousands of baby formula tins from Australian shelves to sell on the black market

A WOMAN has been charged after allegedly stealing more than $250,000 worth of baby formula from Australian shelves and selling them for top-dollar on the black market.

Lie Ke, 48, was arrested on Wednesday night after she was allegedly caught red-handed trying to offload 20 tins of formula to a buyer in a car park at a train station in Carlingford.

It’s understood police had been watching Ke for several months, after detectives from the Robbery and Serious Crime Squad were tipped off by retailers about the large-scale coordinated theft in February.


Following her arrest, officers raided two of Ke’s home’s at Carlingford and allegedly found more than 4000 tins of stolen formula and more than $215,000 cash hidden throughout the properties.

Police say large quantities of vitamins, Manuka honey, and various other items, all of which are believed to have been stolen, were also found during Wednesday night’s operation.

(SOURCE: NSW Police Force)

(SOURCE: NSW Police Force)

Ke is accused of being the mastermind of a much larger criminal group operating in Sydney, Newcastle and the Central Coast.

Police allege Ke made a substantial profit from selling the stolen formula at a higher price on the black market.

(SOURCE: NSW Police Force)

(SOURCE: NSW Police Force)

She has since been charged with a long list of serious offences, including knowingly directing the activities of a criminal group and knowingly participating in a criminal group assist crime.

The 48-year-old is also facing additional charges of participating in a criminal group contribute criminal activity, and one recklessly deal with proceeds of crime. She’ll face court again next month.

A 53-year-old man who was arrested with the woman on Wednesday night was released pending further inquiries.

Police say more arrests are likely, with investigations into the criminal group continuing.

If you have information for Police, please contact NSW Police on 131 444 or provide information using their online form 24 hours per day. 

You can report also information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via nsw.crimestoppers.com.au 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.