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