100+ arrested after undercover retail theft probe
Updated: December 22, 2012 1:39PM
More than 100 people have been arrested during a monthlong undercover investigation targeting organized retail theft rings responsible for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise from large malls and shopping centers across Cook County.
The investigation, dubbed “Operation Whoville,” involved a series of separate undercover sting operations at six Chicago-area malls, including North Riverside and Old Orchard, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said in a news release.
Arrests were also made at shops on Michigan Avenue and State Street in Chicago.
A total of 108 people were charged with theft for allegedly stealing clothing, electronics and jewelry as well as over-the-counter medicines and baby formula. Authorities also recovered narcotics and guns from several suspects.
The operation targeted individuals and organized theft crews who steal products from retailers then pass along the stolen goods to major fencing operations, who resell them for significant untaxed profits.
The monthlong operation was coordinated by the state’s attorney’s Regional Organized Crime Task Force, a group of law enforcement and retail partners, the release said. The police departments in Skokie, Niles, and Vernon Hills participated in “Operation Whoville.”
Alvarez said the operation was timed to prevent as much organized retail theft as possible during the busy holiday shopping season.
Alvarez’s office said the state of Illinois loses $77 million a year in revenue as a result of shoplifting and organized retail theft.