People are shoplifting to get money for drugs! Fences are buying the shoplifted items from the addicts!
Yep, it's truly shocking. 'Cuz anybody who has worked in criminal law figures this out in about his first 15 minutes of practice.
I cannot tell you how many times I've represented the "cutout." The more serious criminal always seems to be a step away from where the catchable crime occurs. Almost always he tries to maintain some level of deniability. My client will be caught shoplifting anything from steaks to baby formula to computers. He wasn't sent there by whomever he's going to sell the stuff to, but there's a reason that he's stealing baby formula rather than trail mix. He knows what he can sell to get enough money to buy a few rocks. Or perhaps he knows what he can trade to his dealer who will then sell it to the fence. Either way, business as the fence is always more lucrative and less dangerous.