Woman ‘organised mules' to steal baby formula

THE alleged queenpin of a baby formula theft syndicate faced a Sydney court today after being charged with co-ordinating the theft of more than 4000 tins of powdered milk.

Lie Ke, 48, pleaded not guilty to a raft of charges at Burwood Local Court on Monday but covered her head with a fur hood and ran from the courthouse after her brief appearance.

Police allege Ms Ke organised for up to a dozen "mules" to steal tins of formula from supermarkets and retailers across Sydney, Newcastle and the state's central coast.

 

Lie Ke covered her face as she left Burwood Court today. Picture: Supplied
Lie Ke covered her face as she left Burwood Court today. Picture: Supplied

 

She pleaded not guilty to a number of charges. Picture: Supplied
She pleaded not guilty to a number of charges. Picture: Supplied

 

She was allegedly arrested trying to offload 20 tins of formula to a buyer in a Sydney car park last month and police later raided two Carlingford properties where they discovered a stash of 4000 tins and $215,000 cash.

Police also found large quantities of vitamins, Manuka honey, also believed to be stolen.

Ke is charged with knowingly directing the criminal group's activities, knowingly assisting in the group's activities, three counts of participating in a criminal group and recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime.

 

Police found more than 4000 tins of formula and $215,000 in cash from two Carlingford properties. Picture: NSW Police
Police found more than 4000 tins of formula and $215,000 in cash from two Carlingford properties. Picture: NSW Police

 

Other items, believed to bes tolen, including vitamins and Manuka honey were also found in the homes. Picture: NSW Police
Other items, believed to bes tolen, including vitamins and Manuka honey were also found in the homes. Picture: NSW Police

NSW Police robbery and serious crime squad detectives began watching Ke in February after a number of retailers tipped them off about co-ordinated thefts of baby formula across Sydney.

She was arrested alongside a 53-year-old man in a car park on Lloyd Avenue, Carlingford on August 22.

A tin of baby formula fetches about $30 in Australia but can be sold for inflated prices overseas, especially in China.

Police expect to make further arrests.