MARKHAM, Ill. (CBS) — Markham police said Thursday that they have broken up a massive retail theft ring with more than $1 million worth of stolen goods hidden in a storage facility.
It all started around 4 a.m. Tuesday, when police said they were responding to a report of a stolen car. They found a group of men standing outside, all of whom were arrested.
But police on Thursday were still sorting through what they found in the storage units – including top-shelf liquor, name-brand shoes, and big-screen TVs.
Also discovered were bicycles, vacuum cleaners, computer monitors, and high-end luggage, among other items. The items were found in dozens of boxes that were filled with stolen goods over the course of six months and placed in the storage units.
CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker got a peek inside the storage units Thursday afternoon. Among the items she noted was a briefcase that had a price tag of $525.
Police said five men were behind the operation. Four of them would break into railroad yards and steal the merchandise from train cars, as well as trucks parked on Chicago streets.
Police said a fifth thief rented the storage units, and they believe he planned to sell the goods and ship them overseas.
As CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported, major theft rings like this one could cost Americans in the long run. Some industry experts say stores drive up their prices to cover the costs of retail thefts.
To put the larger problem is perspective, the National Retail Federation says organized heists cost retailers nationwide about $30 billion per year.
Police said they also discovered $16,000 in cash. They said they also found three guns related to the administration – and while police would not say where the guns were found, they said the guns were not found in the storage units.
The five men arrested in connection to the thefts remained in custody Thursday afternoon.