Confessing to Dr. Phil: How's That Working for You?

By Michelle Wayland
|  Saturday, Apr 4, 2009  |  Updated 8:32 AM CDT
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Confessing to Dr. Phil: How's That Working for You?

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Matthew and Laura Eaton 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.

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San Diego, Ca. -- A Vista sheriff's detective thought he was investigating a routine shoplifting complaint last year.  He was wrong.

Detective Dave Hillen said he confronted a San Marcos couple at their home for allegedly stealing LEGOs from the Target store on University Drive, according to the North County Times.  He had no idea the couple were about to be thrown into the national spotlight.
Hillen soon found out that the pair had confessed -- on national TV -- to making about $100,000 a year by stealing.

"I've never seen anything like it," Detective Dave Hillen told the paper, adding that his initial investigation of Laura and Matthew Eaton didn't reveal any arrests for theft in California.

"How do you do all this and not get caught?" Hillen asked.

The San Marcos couple, who bragged about making $100,000 shoplifting and selling their loot on eBay, are under investigation by federal agents.

Matthew and Laura Eaton 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.

But what Matthew Eaton called "easy money" on-air got a lot harder last week when the Secret Service and the 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, but the search warrant indicates their on-air boasting caught authorities' attention.

Hillen told the paper that he first encountered the Eatons in August after a Target employee suspected them of stealing a LEGO toy kit.

Sheriff's officials said the couple is suspected of several thefts from the Vista Target -- and of continuing to steal after appearing on "Dr. Phil."

"I can confirm that they are suspected in crimes that occurred after the airing, but I can't disclose when or where those crimes occurred," Vista sheriff's Sgt. Art Wager told the paper.

According to the show, the couple has been stealing for at least six years.

Talk show host Phil McGraw said in the episode that the couple's children -- who were shown in a video chronicling what the couple described as three-day shoplifting trip -- were ages 4, 2 and 1 when the show aired in November.

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