Mom, daughter charged with formula thefts

Police release photo of suspects accused of stealing baby formula from retail stores in Muskegon area. (Courtesy Norton Shores Police Department/Nov. 4, 2014)

NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) — A mother and daughter accused of shoplifting more than $1,500 in baby formula from two Norton Shores stores allegedly admitted to the thefts, as well as several other thefts in other counties.

Susan Surian, 55, and 29-year-old Lisa Marie Surian were each arraigned Tuesday morning on a count of first-degree retail fraud and and a count of organized retail fraud. Each charge is from a separate case. Lisa Surian faces an additional charge of being a third-time habitual offender.

Investigators say the two were captured on video at two Norton Shores stores, allegedly stealing baby formula on Sept. 20 at the Meijer in the 1800 block of Holton Road and again on Oct. 12 at the Meijer in the 700 block of Norton Avenue.

Testifying before a magistrate to obtain arrest warrants, a Norton Shores Police Department detective said that the pair pulled off the thefts by getting a container — in the Oct. 12 case a garbage can from the store and in the Sept. 20 case a tote they brought with them — filling it with baby formula, and then showing old receipts at the door to make it look like they had paid.

In the Sept. 20 case, the detective testified surveillance video showed, Lisa Surian filled the tote with about $572 in baby formula while her mother acted as the lookout. In the Oct. 12 case, Lisa Surian allegedly filled the garbage can with $1,066 in baby formula, again with her mother was the lookout.

The detective said after releasing a surveillance photo of the pair to the media, the department received multiple tips identifying them. Old booking photos showed the suspects were Susan and Lisa Surian, he said.

The detective said that when he interviewed the Surians, they admitted to the Norton Shores incidents as well as “multiple” similar baby formula thefts since the summer at Meijer and Walmart stores in Muskegon, Ottawa and Kent counties. They said they sold the baby formula on Craigslist for $5 to $10 per container and split the money.

Court documents show that just eight days before the first theft, the Surians were sentenced on Sept. 12 for misdemeanor charges in Montcalm County for a similar larceny from a Greenville store.

Because investigators say they can prove the duo was selling the formula, the charges in Muskegon County are felonies.

If convicted, the two could spend 10 years in prison each. They are expected back in court for hearings on Dec. 4 and have preliminary exams scheduled for Dec. 9.

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