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Level 5: Advanced >> Error Correction/Editing Worksheets >> In this category of editing worksheets, students look for punctuation mistakes in the text.

Read the following text. Some of the lines have punctuation errors. Correct the punctuation errors that you find.

Thieves Target Baby Formula

In the baby food aisle at the Dominick's supermarket in Elmhurst, small signs offer an apology: Due to high theft, all powder formula is located in the pharmacy. When the pharmacy is closed, please ask at the service desk."

At super stores and grocery markets around Chicago and the nation shoplifters have been zeroing in on powdered baby formula, sometimes clearing shelves of dozens of cans at a time.

the thefts are the latest sign of a surprising black market in the innocent yet expensive white powder that comes packed in cans decorated with baby rabbits and teddy bears. The substitute for mothers milk is a favorite target for fraud, with government aid recipients trading it for cash.

Much of the stolen goods later appears on the shelves of small corner stores, where formula that legally costs as much as 13.50$ a pound sells for a few bucks less.

The high price of formula and the ravenous market for it have attracted and enriched people from junkies and unethical grocers to young mothers on government assistance, police say. the illicit market also threatens the safety and nutrition of infants.

Some retailers, like the Elmhurst Dominick's, have responded by removing powdered formula from open shelves. "Its one of the highest-ranked theft items in all the chains - it's a nationwide problem, particularly because it's a big-ticket item said Wynona Redmond, a Dominick's spokeswoman.

Though more pressing crimes than shoplifting tend to occupy local police, state and federal authorities have discovered the link between shoplifting and the black market through investigations of fraud in the federal nutritional program for women, infants and children, or WIC

Most recipients use WIC coupons to buy food for themselves and their children. But others barter or sell the formula and other items they buy through WIC, or simply sell the coupons to storekeepers for cash. such fraud amounts to several million dollar´s a year in Illinois, though it is unknown how much of that involves formula.

Officials said it would be nearly impossible to quantify the amount of formula stolen from legitimate retailers in the state or nation, and several major retailers declined to put a value on their formula losses. Still law enforcement officials say such theft is a significant concern.

A national problem

"Theres a big problem not just in the Chicago area but in New York, Detroit - all the major metropolitan areas said Daniel Nikolic, an assistant Illinois attorney general who has prosecuted black market formula retailers. "People have a big problem with infant formula just leaving their shelves."

Locally, police say, the thieves are becoming more brazen. In Arlington Heights and Palatine, Mt. Prospect and evanston, shoplifters working alone or in small groups have filled grocery carts with cans of the powder and wheeled them to idling getaway cars.

"The majority of people we run into are doing this to support a substance abuse problem," said Arlington Heights Police Detective Nick Pecora. gregg rokosz, 25, a former heroin addict who was sentenced to a year in prison for taking 20 cans of formula from a Dominick's in Mt. Prospect, said he stole the powder from suburban supermarkets more than 75 times over the course of a year and sold it to pay for drugs.

"Id walk out of there with sometimes 40 down to 15 [cans]," Rokosz said in a telephone interview from Logan Correctional Center. "At Dominick's, you steal it one day and they restock the shelves the next day, and you just clear it out again."

After taking the formula, Rokosz said, he and his acquaintances would drive to a constellation of small grocery stores on Chicago's West Side, where they sold the cans for about $7. They stole only powdered formula because the liquid doesn't sell well on the street, he said. And they made sure to take cans with late expiration dates 2002 and beyond because the city grocers paid less for older cans.

"Theres a lot of people doing it - that store was bringing it in too, they were easily getting 500 to 600 cans a day," Rokosz said. People were bringing them cases and cases of baby formula. They buy it straight up for cash, no questions asked. I kept on bringing them so much that after a couple of months, I asked, 'Do you still need this stuff?' They were like, 'Keep bringing it.' There was no limit."

The grocers had no illusions about the source of the formula, he said. "They know. Everything in these stores is from other stores, and anything we bring in they'll buy, razors, diapers, aspirin. Anything you bring, theyll buy."

Supply and demand

The demand for formula seems inexhaustible. Most of the 4 million babies born annually in the United States are fed formula sometime during their first year, according to the Atlanta-based International Formula Council, a trade group that represents formula manufacturers

And though many women and children about 250.000 in Illinois meet the income requirements to receive WIC benefits, others who are slightly better off struggle to afford the pricey powder. Some may turn to smaller neighborhood grocery stores in search of a discount, and they may find one through black marketeers.

"When we have clients who don't qualify for WIC, it becomes a real hardship for some of them, especially single mothers who dont meet the income guidelines," said Dennis McSwain, division manager of community development and outreach for Catholic Charities of the Chicago Archdiocese. "I have friends, and they make $60,000 a year and they still complain about it. It's very expensive."

Although most stolen formula is fed to babies, the fine white powder also is used to cut heroin and other injectable drugs, police and drug enforcement officials said.

The traffic in baby formula has been noticed by investigators from Kentucky to Connecticut. In 1,998, police in Iowa stumbled onto a van containing more than 300 cans of powdered formula purchased with fake coupons from Wal-Mart and Target stores. Although Chicago police several years ago were investigating large-scale formula fencing operations, shoplifting of formula is not now a major problem in the city, said police spokesman Pat Camden. Chicago police are not investigating small grocers for reselling stolen powder, he added.

But at a West Side grocery store, a reporter recently purchased for $10 a can of Similac formula bearing a not for retail sale label. The label is being used by some formula manufacturers to deter unsuspecting customers from buying formula intended for WIC recipients or new mothers.

"If its in a corner store and it says 'Not for retail sale,' it should not be on the shelf for sale said Mike Larson, chief of the bureau of family nutrition for the state Department of Human Services, which administers WIC in Illinois. "There's no legitimate way that should be there."

WIC fraud can lead to malnutrition and increased theft and can take a toll on the nation's health system, investigators said it can also be deadly.

Chicago fatality

In a much-publicized Chicago case in 1995, 3-month-old jarvis qualls starved to death after his mother allegedly sold her WIC coupons for cash so she could buy cocaine. Kimberly Qualls was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 1998.

"They're basically taking food out of the mouths of children," said Thomas Lynch, assistant to the special agent in charge of the Cleveland district of the U.S. Secret Service and head of a task force that uses federal money-laundering statutes to prosecute food stamp and WIC fraud. "If there wasn't this outlet for coupons then parents would have to do what they're supposed to do."

Across the country, federal investigators have been tracking a web of grocery stores and wholesalers who buy WIC-purchased formula for resale and sell stolen baby formula a Cleveland grocer, his wife and an associate were indicted last year for committing more than $2 million in WIC fraud over six years.

The Illinois Department of Human Services has taken steps to cut down on fraud, including contracting with Catholic Charities to operate 17 Chicago outlets devoted entirely to WIC foods, eliminating the possibility that recipients will swap their coupons for cash or anything else

The state police and the attorney general's office also investigate grocery stores, with agents posing as WIC recipients trying to sell their benefits, occasionally turning up instances of shoplifted formula being resold as well.

"If these stores can buy formula for 3$ a can, but I can charge the government $15 for two cans, it's a big profit there," said Nikolic, the assistant attorney general The threat has to be out there that the next person who you buy WIC [coupons] from may be a state police agent undercover."

Original Copy for Teachers

Thieves Target Baby Formula

In the baby food aisle at the Dominick's supermarket in Elmhurst, small signs offer an apology: "Due to high theft, all powder formula is located in the pharmacy. When the pharmacy is closed, please ask at the service desk."

At super stores and grocery markets around Chicago and the nation, shoplifters have been zeroing in on powdered baby formula, sometimes clearing shelves of dozens of cans at a time.

The thefts are the latest sign of a surprising black market in the innocent yet expensive white powder that comes packed in cans decorated with baby rabbits and teddy bears. The substitute for mother's milk is a favorite target for fraud, with government aid recipients trading it for cash.

Much of the stolen goods later appears on the shelves of small corner stores, where formula that legally costs as much as $13.50 a pound sells for a few bucks less.

The high price of formula and the ravenous market for it have attracted and enriched people from junkies and unethical grocers to young mothers on government assistance, police say. The illicit market also threatens the safety and nutrition of infants.

Some retailers, like the Elmhurst Dominick's, have responded by removing powdered formula from open shelves. "It's one of the highest-ranked theft items in all the chains - it's a nationwide problem, particularly because it's a big-ticket item," said Wynona Redmond, a Dominick's spokeswoman.

Though more pressing crimes than shoplifting tend to occupy local police, state and federal authorities have discovered the link between shoplifting and the black market through investigations of fraud in the federal nutritional program for women, infants and children, or WIC.

Most recipients use WIC coupons to buy food for themselves and their children. But others barter or sell the formula and other items they buy through WIC, or simply sell the coupons to storekeepers for cash. Such fraud amounts to several million dollars a year in Illinois, though it is unknown how much of that involves formula.

Officials said it would be nearly impossible to quantify the amount of formula stolen from legitimate retailers in the state or nation, and several major retailers declined to put a value on their formula losses. Still, law enforcement officials say such theft is a significant concern.

A national problem

"There's a big problem not just in the Chicago area but in New York, Detroit - all the major metropolitan areas," said Daniel Nikolic, an assistant Illinois attorney general who has prosecuted black-market formula retailers. "People have a big problem with infant formula just leaving their shelves."

Locally, police say, the thieves are becoming more brazen. In Arlington Heights and Palatine, Mt. Prospect and Evanston, shoplifters working alone or in small groups have filled grocery carts with cans of the powder and wheeled them to idling getaway cars.

"The majority of people we run into are doing this to support a substance abuse problem," said Arlington Heights Police Detective Nick Pecora. Gregg Rokosz, 25, a former heroin addict who was sentenced to a year in prison for taking 20 cans of formula from a Dominick's in Mt. Prospect, said he stole the powder from suburban supermarkets more than 75 times over the course of a year and sold it to pay for drugs.

"I'd walk out of there with sometimes 40 down to 15 [cans]," Rokosz said in a telephone interview from Logan Correctional Center. "At Dominick's, you steal it one day and they restock the shelves the next day, and you just clear it out again."

After taking the formula, Rokosz said, he and his acquaintances would drive to a constellation of small grocery stores on Chicago's West Side, where they sold the cans for about $7. They stole only powdered formula because the liquid doesn't sell well on the street, he said. And they made sure to take cans with late expiration dates, 2002 and beyond, because the city grocers paid less for older cans.

"There's a lot of people doing it - that store was bringing it in too, they were easily getting 500 to 600 cans a day," Rokosz said. "People were bringing them cases and cases of baby formula. They buy it straight up for cash, no questions asked. I kept on bringing them so much that after a couple of months, I asked, 'Do you still need this stuff?' They were like, 'Keep bringing it.' There was no limit."

The grocers had no illusions about the source of the formula, he said. "They know. Everything in these stores is from other stores, and anything we bring in they'll buy, razors, diapers, aspirin. Anything you bring, they'll buy."

Supply and demand

The demand for formula seems inexhaustible. Most of the 4 million babies born annually in the United States are fed formula sometime during their first year, according to the Atlanta-based International Formula Council, a trade group that represents formula manufacturers.

And though many women and children, about 250,000 in Illinois, meet the income requirements to receive WIC benefits, others who are slightly better off struggle to afford the pricey powder. Some may turn to smaller neighborhood grocery stores in search of a discount, and they may find one through black marketeers.

"When we have clients who don't qualify for WIC, it becomes a real hardship for some of them, especially single mothers who don't meet the income guidelines," said Dennis McSwain, division manager of community development and outreach for Catholic Charities of the Chicago Archdiocese. "I have friends, and they make $60,000 a year and they still complain about it. It's very expensive."

Although most stolen formula is fed to babies, the fine white powder also is used to cut heroin and other injectable drugs, police and drug enforcement officials said.

The traffic in baby formula has been noticed by investigators from Kentucky to Connecticut. In 1998, police in Iowa stumbled onto a van containing more than 300 cans of powdered formula purchased with fake coupons from Wal-Mart and Target stores. Although Chicago police several years ago were investigating large-scale formula fencing operations, shoplifting of formula is not now a major problem in the city, said police spokesman Pat Camden. Chicago police are not investigating small grocers for reselling stolen powder, he added.

But at a West Side grocery store, a reporter recently purchased for $10 a can of Similac formula bearing a "Not for retail sale" label. The label is being used by some formula manufacturers to deter unsuspecting customers from buying formula intended for WIC recipients or new mothers.

"If it's in a corner store and it says 'Not for retail sale,' it should not be on the shelf for sale," said Mike Larson, chief of the bureau of family nutrition for the state Department of Human Services, which administers WIC in Illinois. "There's no legitimate way that should be there."

WIC fraud can lead to malnutrition and increased theft and can take a toll on the nation's health system, investigators said. It can also be deadly.

Chicago fatality

In a much-publicized Chicago case in 1995, 3-month-old Jarvis Qualls starved to death after his mother allegedly sold her WIC coupons for cash so she could buy cocaine. Kimberly Qualls was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 1998.

"They're basically taking food out of the mouths of children," said Thomas Lynch, assistant to the special agent in charge of the Cleveland district of the U.S. Secret Service and head of a task force that uses federal money-laundering statutes to prosecute food stamp and WIC fraud. "If there wasn't this outlet for coupons, then parents would have to do what they're supposed to do."

Across the country, federal investigators have been tracking a web of grocery stores and wholesalers who buy WIC-purchased formula for resale and sell stolen baby formula. A Cleveland grocer, his wife and an associate were indicted last year for committing more than $2 million in WIC fraud over six years.

The Illinois Department of Human Services has taken steps to cut down on fraud, including contracting with Catholic Charities to operate 17 Chicago outlets devoted entirely to WIC foods, eliminating the possibility that recipients will swap their coupons for cash or anything else.

The state police and the attorney general's office also investigate grocery stores, with agents posing as WIC recipients trying to sell their benefits, occasionally turning up instances of shoplifted formula being resold as well.

"If these stores can buy formula for $3 a can, but I can charge the government $15 for two cans, it's a big profit there," said Nikolic, the assistant attorney general. "The threat has to be out there that the next person who you buy WIC [coupons] from may be a state police agent undercover."

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