CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A fencing operation involving a downtown business in Charleston could bring more charges.

Detectives on Thursday arrested Khitam Ghoul, the wife of the owner of the Middle East Mart next to the city’s Transit Mall, and charged her with transferring and receiving stolen property. However, more charges could be filed.

Charleston police chief Brent Webster, a guest on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” said the small store was operating a big-time shoplifting ring.

“It’s a little retail criminal organization is what it is,” Webster said.

The fencing ring, according to police, took place at businesses across the city but it was mainly centered around the Charleston Town Center Mall.

Webster said Ghoul used a handful of thieves to carry out the crimes.

“She would basically give them a list of this is what (she) wanted, sometimes provide a picture of it and say, ‘I’d like to have this,'” the chief said. “Then the informants would go into a store—many times the Town Center Mall, but it could have been anywhere where the item was—and they would steal it and come back.”

In return investigators said the thieves got a few bucks for the items and Ghoul would pocket the rest.

Stolen items included CDs, DVDs, handbags, clothes, even food.

Webster said some of those items were on sale at the Middle East Mart.

“Not only is Mrs. Ghoul reselling a lot of the items, a lot of it is for her personal collection.”

Charleston police got a warrant Thursday evening and searched the Ghoul home.

“We believe there’s possibly up to $100,000 or more of stolen items. Things like high-end jeans with tags on them, high-end purses, expensive cologne, perfume, sunglasses, jackets,” said Webster.

Lisa McCracken, marketing director for Town Center Mall, said store operators been working closely with police for eight months.

“Charleston Town Center and some of our retailers have been cooperating with the Charleston Police Department and their efforts through an undercover investigation to put an end to some of this criminal activity.”

Some of the stores hardest hit by the ring include Macy’s, FYE and Kroger. Investigators estimated more than $700,000 in stolen merchandise came through the Middle East Mart.

Police also found money, marijuana and drug paraphernalia during their raid on the store.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department closed down the business Friday morning, citing a leaky roof in its kitchen.

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  • Tom

    Ali Baba and the 40 thieves!!!

  • daniel

    Like Islam or Obama have anything to do with the amount of crime and drug trafficking that goes on in and around the mall. Go ask Mrs mccracken about the recent herein overdoses in the mall that were never publicized.

  • Mason County Contrarian

    Surprised that the state's Attorney "Let's Go After the Price Gouging Foreigners the Jersey Way" General wasn't involved. He passed up some good publicity.

    Maybe he doesn't want any--sees the need to lay low and keep quiet.

  • griff

    Deport her

    • DWL

      More than likely she's a 3rd cousin, twice removed to the m0r0n, living in public housing and sucking up welfare.

  • Hillbilly

    Hey , Oboma just keeps welcoming all of his relatives with open arms , what do you expect ?

    • Educated Hillbilly

      For your lame comments to draw a chuckle, you should spell the President's name correctly.

      • DWL

        The correct spelling is m0r0n!

        • Tom

          Stop cracker-ing us all up!!

  • thornton

    Looks to have bars over her windows...bad neighborhood full of crooks?

    • Doc

      Transit Mall has always been a high crime area

  • Hillbilly

    Kroger? What, was she getting free food too???

  • Kurt Smith

    Thanks, Islam.

    • Jason412

      I'd bet the woman wasn't a practicing Muslim any more than the thieves were practicing Christian's.

      • WV Common Tater

        She wasn't practicing any more, she had learned all she needed to fleece the infidels.

        • DWL


  • Bob

    How many more set ups are like this in Wv and the other 49 states?

    • Sarcastic Sam


      • BIM Job

        8 if you count the one in DC