(The Center Square) As “smash and grab” robberies increase around the country, Illinois authorities have recovered a treasure trove of stolen property.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said his Organized Retail Crime Task Force executed search warrants on eight storage units at two separate facilities. Inside they found tens of thousands of stolen items worth over $1 million.
According to Raoul’s office, the units contained four semi-trailers worth of stolen merchandise, including clothing, furniture, beauty products electronics, and high-end food.
“Our goal is to disrupt the criminal enterprises that engage in the overall scheme, and send a message to these criminal operations that we will identify them and end the destruction they cause to our communities,” Raoul said.
According to the National Retail Federation, organized retail crime has spiked over 60% in the last five years.
Fourteen people stormed into the Louis Vuitton store in Oak Brook and grabbed everything they could. Days before, a crew hit another Louis Vuitton store at the Northbrook Court Mall and stole more than $100,000 in merchandise. There have been several high-profile robberies in California as well.
Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said those responsible are organized outfits.
“These gangs operate and whether it’s selling narcotics, this is just another layer of what the gangs are doing, organized retail crime in order to make money,” Deenihan said.
The head of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association commended the task force for their efforts.
“This seizure is about more than recovering lost goods, it’s about protecting our communities and sending a strong message that these crimes will not be tolerated,” said Rob Karr, president and CEO of IRMA.
“By working together, we can better understand how these perpetrators operate and work to dismantle these criminal rings that steal tens of billions of dollars a year, using profits from thefts to fund other illicit activities.”