Woman Dies After Being Detained For Shoplifting

UPDATED 12/10/10 – 10 p.m.

TINLEY PARK, Ill. (CBS) — A woman who neighbors say had fallen on hard economic times died Thursday night after being detained by security for allegedly shoplifting at a southwest suburban Kmart.

Maryann Gurin, 53, was pronounced dead at Palos Community Hospital in Palos Heights at 7:54 p.m. Thursday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

An autopsy on Friday found she died of heart problems caused by obesity, and her death was ruled natural, the medical examiner’s office said.

Police responded at 7:16 p.m. to a call of a shoplifter in custody in a security office at the Super Kmart at 16300 Harlem Ave. in Tinley Park, according to Tinley Park police Cmdr. Steven Vaccaro.

Gurin was being detained for allegedly trying to take clothing from the store when her breathing became labored and she became unresponsive, Vaccaro said. Two of her children, 18 and 13, were with her at the time. A store spokeswoman told CBS 2 that Gurin had tried to steal more than $100 worth of merchandise.

An ambulance was called and Gurin was taken to Palos Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Vaccaro said Gurin had a history of medical problems.

Gurin’s children were not charged and police do not believe they were shoplifting, Vaccaro said. They were released to a relative.

Gurin’s address was not immediately known, but Vaccaro said she had lived in Tinley Park and Orland Park. She did not have a criminal record in Tinley Park.

“It’s tragic,’’ Vaccaro said of the incident.

Gurin’s neighbors described her as a kind person and a good neighbor –- but one whose fortunes had declined. Gurin reportedly used to live in a house that is now dark.

 “They fell on some hard times, and like a lot of Americans out there. I think they lost their house,” one neighbor, who requested anonymity, told CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman.

Another neighbor, Sandy Simari, said Gurin and her husband had been unemployed and their home was in foreclosure.

“When someone has to, let’s say, lower themselves to have to steal to help their family, things are tough,” she speculated.

Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire

  • Moe ThePhotographer

    How many layers of the clothes she was shoplifting was she wearing??? Didn’t the kids realise mom’s clothes keeps on changing and she is looking heavier??

  • Excuse Me

    To: the truth – Does it feel good to stomp on one’s grave? Do you know this woman’s story?
    By no means am I going to profess that shoplifting is right or even justified, but we don’t know whether or not she was just trying to make sure her kids didn’t freeze to death without proper winter clothes or not.
    I’m a law-abiding citizen and have never been in trouble with the law. However, if I was put in a desperate situation with no money to buy clothes for my kids, perhaps I might have make a bad choice too.
    To actually have the gravitas to make fun of this tragedy literally makes me want to puke.
    I thought we were all taught in the second grade to imagine walking in someone else’s shoes before making harsh, hurtful judgments.
    My heart pours out to her children.

    • Diaa

      Thank you. Me, too.

  • kim

    Autopsy results were no available as of 1 p.m., the medical examiner’s office said.?!?!?!?

    I’m sure he said “not” I wish journalist would proof read their stories

    maybe she wasn’t trying to shop lift, if she wasn’t feeling well she may have been disorientated

  • Susan

    To: Excuse Me – I couldn’t have said it better!

  • Pleeeeezzzzeeee

    my heart goes out to the children ????????? they will be in a blog like this down the road , trust me…..to bad so sad….. if you saw your parents steal when you were growing up you would do same…is what it is…. Be a good Parent – convey what right VS wrong….not rocket science people !

    • Cait

      one of the children has autism and one is a good kid. you dont know this family. you have no right to say this. im only commenting on this because the woman who died is my cousin. i cant even believe you would say something like this. who actually has the time to comment on these articles. you have no life.

  • Amber

    To Pllleeezze – Are you seriously denigrating children who just witnessed their Mom die on Thursday? Have you no soul, you heartless ape?
    I’m sure your parents never made mistakes, and that’s what turned you into the perfect, compassionless buffoon you are. Kudos to your Mom and Dad! Three cheers to the accuser who throws stones in a glass house!

  • J-Chi

    How do we know she was shoplifting? She was accused of it and was not convicted. Hopefully her family will acquire legal counsel to pursue this further to determine if she was wrongfully accused of this and determine if Kmart security contributed to her passing.

  • Tim

    ALot of shoplifters like to fight and resist. I am sure the store has Video footage of this shoppers experience. It is a shame that she did this with her kids, one who is 18 and grown. If she needed clothing desperately she could of contacted the Salvation Army or Red Cross or numerous other Charities or Churches that would be more then willing to help. There are many people that Donate to these charitys on a regular basis. Help is there if you ask for it. On the other hand there are those shoplifters whom love the thrilll of getting away with stealing., they can have plenty of cash or valid credit cards on them and they simply want to steal for the thrill of getting away with it. The video footage does not lie.

  • Nighthawk

    This is a sad story all around.

    People want to jump down the President’s throat for striking a deal in order to ensure the extension of unemployment benefits. If allowed to expire (especially during the winter months), we will see many more sad stories of people doing unconscionable things out of financial desperation.

    • Roberta Waker

      I agree, but if most of our manufacturing jobs weren’t shipped overseas, we would have very little unemployment. Trade deals are good, but FAIR trade deals are better for US. Obama needs to get some backbone with China to HELP America, not continue to bury us with unfair trade deals and devalued dollars.

  • kim

    Send my love to the kids. they will be in my thoughts.

  • Roberta Waker

    Maybe if we stopped helping the ILLEGALS in this country with free medical, free food, free housing, free education, free, free, free, we might have been able to help this woman and her family. Instead, we send our sympathy to them. The American dream of home ownership is gone and we are quickly becoming an America with no hope. We can thank our government for killing our economy and breaking our backs with taxes everywhere. Wake up Americans, it’s almost too late.

  • it's okay

    I think if a person is nice, but having hard times, they should be able to steal anything they want. anyone who is having hard times and is nice should go over to Kmart right now and load up a cart and take it. If you get arrested, just tell the cops you are nice but having hard times. You are entitled to what is there. You might just be too fat to work, but hey, you deserve to have stuff. Why should anyone have to work and pay for anything?? As long as people say you are nice, you are excused! And if you are stopped, you should think of a way to sue the cops, and KMart!

  • Kate

    The woman does not sound like she was a serial shoplifter. And, WHO among all of you posting your thoughts has NOT stolen something??? Maybe you just have not been caught, like this woman, so have a little sympathy. Her shoplifting days are over, poor thing. She might have really been struggling. And, by the way, “It’s OK”, you sound goofy.

    • it's okay

      Kate: What’s goofy is your thinking that the only thing she did wrong was get caught! no, i do not steal, it is wrong and i wouldn’t expect others to pay for things i want. you suggest that we are all like her, just haven’t been caught. maybe you are like that, but i assure you, many of us are not like that!

      my point is that just because someone is struggling does not give them the right to steal. there are other ways. stealing is against the law, and it is wrong.

  • charline

    i steal all the time but i dont take the kids with me

  • charline

    people she did not steal food to feed her family. she went christmas shopping . she did not go in the store naked did she.

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  • Tiffany

    The christmas time is very hard for some people,esp for people who probably didnt have any jobs. So before you start talking trash about people think about what the family is going through at this time of pain. They just lost there family member and they dont deserve you people being rude and talking bad about there family. Im sure if any of you were in her shoes you would do the same.

  • Amanda

    To Kate:
    Believe it or not, you CAN believe that shoplifting is wrong AND have compassion for this poor woman too. The two are not mutually exclusive.
    You paint your broad brush and assume that anyone who feels bad for this woman or her children are just excusers of poor behavior.
    Your 2-dimensional logic comes across as crass and frankly uneducated.
    Yes – WE KNOW IT”S WRONG TO STEAL! And we know that there are and should be consequences for her actions.
    But to trounce on this woman’s grave to prove your point is rather silly, wouldn’t you say?

  • Amanda

    oops: I meant to “it’s okay”

  • Forgiver

    It turns out that conviction is a luxury of those on the sidelines. Try to live in her shoes or her kids’ lives for a minute. Are you that heartless where you would stomp on someone’s grave. I hope you don’t ever need forgiveness.

    Also, due to her medical condition, she may have been disoriented and it’s possible that the staff at K-Mart exacerbated her condition. The family’s lawyers will figure it out. And, if she didn’t try to conceal it, maybe she really was disoriented.

    Either way, be thankful you don’t have to deal with poverty.

  • Suzanne

    To Amanda & Forgiver:
    Right On!!!!!!

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