(CBS) – Oak Brook police say a gang of high-end purse thieves caught earlier this week in Minnesota may be responsible for a “smash-and-grab”-style theft at a Louis Vuitton store in the western suburb late last year.
Minnesota authorities on Wednesday chased a vehicle after they received an emergency call. Eight men, all from Chicago, were taken into custody in Edina, Minn. after walking out of a Louis Vuitton store with $20,000 in merchandise.
“They all came in at once and overwhelmed the store clerk,” Edina Police Lt. Brian Tholen said.
What the thieves weren’t counting on was an alert person in the parking lot who saw the men get into the van with the bags, some costing more than $1,000 each.
“The citizen who called and said, ‘This van is leaving and I believe something suspicious happened,’ and then he followed the van — which we don’t recommend, for people’s own safety — but he did follow the van,” Tholen said.
The high-speed pursuit involved police from three different departments and state police. Some of the loot was even thrown out of the window by the suspects.
“We do believe from our initial investigation this is a much larger theft ring and possibly even nationwide,” Tholen says.
The eight men have been arrested in the past, in multiple states. Prosecutors announced charges against the eight.
The group of alleged thieves caught in Minnesota “may have a possible link” to a Sept. 7 Louis Vuitton burglary at Oakbrook Center Mall, Oak Brook police said in a statement Thursday.
That theft was of the “smash-and-grab” variety. The burglars drove a minivan through the front door, and while the driver stayed inside the vehicle, eight other people wearing gloves and masks went through the store. More than $120,000 worth of merchandise was reported stolen.
In November, burglars drove another vehicle into a Louis Vuitton store at Northbrook Court shopping mall and stole merchandise.