Watch Now: Millions of Dollars in Stolen Goods Recovered in “Retail Organized Crime” Attack, Says AG | national news

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul on Friday described what he called the first major failure of the Retail Organized Crime Task Force overseen by his office.

SPRINGFIELD – An arrest unrelated to the Chicago Police Department on Sunday led a state task force this week to seize millions of dollars in stolen goods from retailers in what Attorney General Kwame Raoul described as a retail organized crime operation.

Raoul announced the raid at a press conference on Friday, calling it the “first major bust” resulting from the work of the Retail Organized Crime Task Force overseen by his office. This state-wide public-private collaboration includes retailers, online marketplaces, law enforcement agencies and state lawyers.

“The task force brings together law enforcement agencies from federal, state and local agencies, retailers and online marketplaces, to share information and resources to identify and prosecute the criminal enterprises frequently behind. of those well-organized schemes that can sometimes be mistaken for isolated incidents of retail theft. ,” he said.


The task force seized four semi-trailers of goods found after a search warrant was served in eight storage units at two separate locations.

Chicago Police Detective Chief Brendan Deenihan said the bust announced on Friday began with a police officer who made an arrest unrelated to a gun charge. The suspect has been charged with a felony, but the retail theft investigation is ongoing, he said.

“So I really want to congratulate everyone standing behind me, but also a screening officer who made an arrest and said, ‘Hey, there’s something wrong here. There’s something different, you know, this guy has things stolen from his car, ”Deenihan said. “Then we involve our retail crime team. And then the communication really begins with the attorney general’s office, and we are able to recover these items before they go missing.

While Raoul said a full inventory was underway, the task force seized tens of thousands of items, including clothing, cosmetics, furniture, food and electronics from several nationwide retailers. Raoul said they are worth millions of dollars.

It took a team of 15 investigators and law enforcement officers nine hours to unpack all of the recovered items, Raoul said.

The task force was launched in response to smash-and-grab incidents and other retail crimes in which multiple individuals evacuate retail goods from stores within minutes. Downtown Chicago has seen several such incidents, including at luxury handbag retailers and other high-end stores.

But Raoul said it was a national problem.

Stolen Retail Merchandise

Stolen retail goods are photographed in a storage unit at an unspecified location before being seized by the state attorney general’s office.

“This is something evolving for law enforcement nationwide,” he said. “I’ve spoken to colleagues (AGs) in California… and Michigan and they sort of follow our lead and establish similar task forces within their state. So it’s changing the way law enforcement is brought together to collaborate and share information, because we can’t do it alone. “

Raoul also said the ploys are more sophisticated than the smash-and-grab videos that are circulating online. For example, the loot discovered this week appears to have been stolen “from different points in the supply chain,” he said.

“There is a well organized secondary market,” he said. “Our goal is to disrupt the criminal enterprises that engage in the global scheme and send a message to those criminal operations that we will identify them and the destruction they cause to our communities.”

Raoul said that often the people seen in the videos committing retail thefts are not the “linchpins” behind the organized effort.

“Frequently, the criminal enterprises behind these crimes are linked to other crimes, such as drug trafficking and human trafficking,” he said.

Raoul said the “brazen” acts his office is investigating differed from those “who quietly try to put something in their purse.” In response to a question about the prosecution of retail crimes, Raoul said a bust like the one announced on Friday did not “lend itself” to the type of debate over whether a petty theft in the retail trade. detail would be punished as a misdemeanor or felony.

“These are very brazen acts where, quite frankly, any attorney familiar with the compiled statutes of Illinois can find many charges to lay against these criminal actors,” he said.

Friday’s bust was proof of a level of organization investigators lacked before, he said.

Deenihan said retail theft operations were carried out by criminal networks, “and gangs are involved.”

“The goal is to start seeing them as long-term, complex investigations to make the community feel safer, retailers feel safer, and this team has done a lot of work to achieve that,” a- he declared.

The bust drew praise from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

“This seizure goes beyond the recovery of lost property, it is about protecting our communities and sending a strong message that these crimes will not be tolerated,” said the president and CEO of the ‘IRMA, Rob Karr, in a press release. “By working together, we can better understand how these criminals operate and strive to dismantle these criminal networks that steal tens of billions of dollars a year, using the profits from the thefts to fund other illicit activities such as shopping. illegal firearms, while depriving local governments of the sales taxes needed to fund the important services we all rely on.

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