DeKalb police say they busted serial shoplifting crew
DeKALB – Police are still searching for suspects in a shoplifting spree at local stores last week, a crime they said underscores the increased prevalence of such thefts during the busy holiday shopping season.
Raheen C. Clay, 23, of the 700 block of North Annie Glidden Road, and Christopher D. Jackson, 19, of the 8300 block of South Colfax Avenue in Chicago, as well as three juveniles were arrested Thursday in connection with a number of thefts in DeKalb, Sycamore and Iowa. The arrests came after a two-day investigation by DeKalb officers into incidents at DeKalb and Sycamore stores including CVS, DSW shoe store, Walmart, Hy-Vee, Schnucks, Ulta Beauty and Kohl’s.
“These groups travel from city to city throughout the year, but take advantage of the holidays with the increase in shoppers, confusion and businesses being swamped to commit their crimes,” DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery said. “But they didn’t get away with it in DeKalb.
“Crews of this kind are rarely apprehended and are usually responsible for victimizing countless individuals and businesses as they travel from one community to the next,” Lowery said, who expressed his gratitude to his department in an email after the arrests.
Police said the group used a stolen GMC Acadia SUV with Iowa plates in committing the thefts, which happened Nov. 21 and Thursday, and ran off without paying for hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise.
Clay has been charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, and felony and misdemeanor counts of retail theft. Jackson also faces felony and misdemeanor retail theft charges. Both are being held without bond at the DeKalb County Jail. The three juvenile suspects also face retail theft charges, they have been released on bond.
Police said there are additional suspects. In one of the first thefts, which occurred Nov. 21 at DSW, 2347 Sycamore Road, eight people took multiple boxes of shoes from the store and left without paying, police Cmdr. Steve Lekkas said.
Police also received a report of a retail theft Nov. 21 from CVS, 1022 W. Lincoln Highway, Lekkas said. Then on Thursday about 7 p.m., police received a report that multiple suspects had entered Kohl’s, 2070 Sycamore Road in DeKalb, dashed out of the store without paying for merchandise and then ran to a blue GMC SUV with an Iowa front license plate.
As officers were investigating the Kohl’s incident, a witness flagged them down and told them another theft had been committed at the Ulta Beauty supply store just down the street at 2064 Sycamore Road.
About 9 p.m., police located a vehicle matching the suspect vehicle’s description – but with two different Iowa license plates for the front and rear parked in the University Village neighborhood at 746 N. Annie Glidden. The plates came back as stolen, police said. The finding the vehicle led police to search nearby residences, during which the suspects were detained and the stolen merchandise was recovered.
Lekkas said the investigation is ongoing and they expect it to lead to more arrests.
“We are looking for at least a couple more people involved, and working with other jurisdictions, so we’ll try and identify the last players,” Lekkas said.
Under questioning, Clay admitted he had burglarized a car dealership in Iowa, had stolen business documents, and the blue GMC SUV and its keys, according to a police report. Police also learned during their investigation that the shoplifting crew had hit Walmart, Schnucks and Hy-Vee in Sycamore.
Sycamore Police Chief Jim Winters said his department did not have any reports of retail theft during the time in question, but that he would “not be surprised” if more stores were included in the affected list. He said although Sycamore does not have as many large retailers as DeKalb, residents should still be cautious.
“We get more reports of online fraud, and people buying stuff online and then reporting a package theft where the ground carrier drops off [a package] and someone takes it off a porch,” Winters said.
Winters also said that retailers should take advantage of technological aids, such as installing a good camera system.
“That technology is really helpful to retailers,” Winters said, “and to law enforcement if a crime does occur.”