Steal stuff at Tarbutt - Get on Dr. Phil!

Feds search home after couple
admits theft on TV

SAN MARCOS, Calif. — A couple who went on national television to brag about making $100,000 shoplifting and selling their loot on eBay is under investigation by federal agents.

Matthew and Laura Eaton of San Marcos appeared on the "Dr. Phil" show last fall to share their story, aided by a video of their three small children accompanying them on a three-day shoplifting binge.

Last week the Secret Service and other members of the multi-agency San Diego Regional Fraud Task Force searched their home and seized toys, a car and other belongings.

The Eatons have not been arrested or charged. The couple hired an attorney with the United Defense Group in Los Angeles to represent them, but the firm said Thursday they would not comment on the case.

Dave Hillen, a detective at the San Diego County sheriff's office, said he investigated the Eatons for shoplifting before their television appearance.

Last August he received a complaint from a Target store in Vista that the couple had stolen a LEGO kit and confronted them at their home. Hillen said he noticed a pile of unopened toys in the family's garage, but the Eatons claimed they sold the toys online.

He said the couple admitted stealing the LEGOs and he filed a misdemeanor case with the district attorney's office.

They appeared on the show several months later, telling Dr. Phil McGraw that they made $3,500 in one week from selling stolen toys. Matthew Eaton called the thefts "easy money."