7 charged in connection with organized retail crime groups, police say

A multi-agency effort focused on organized retail crime groups operating in Vernon Hills led to felony charges against seven people involved in crimes locally and across the country, police said Thursday.

Vernon Hills police coordinated the operation in which three separate crews believed responsible for $100,000 in losses to Macy’s stores across the U.S., $300,000 in recent losses to Ulta locations from Minnesota to South Carolina and a Texas-based group opening fraudulent lines of credit at Home Depot were taken into custody May 24 and 25.

“We just picked two random days and this is the result,” said Vernon Hills Deputy Chief Shannon Holubetz. “This is two days in Anytown USA.”

In addition to local felony charges of burglary, theft, retail theft and identity theft, those arrested also had active warrants in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and seven other states from New Jersey to California, police said Thursday.

“These arrests occurred in only one jurisdiction but they involved offenders known to commit crimes nationwide,” said Vernon Hills police Chief Patrick Kreis. “The results highlight the extent of the retail crime problem our communities face everyday.”

The initiative also resulted in the seizure of two vehicles from transnational organized crime groups; $27,000 in stolen merchandise; more than $6,000 in cash believed to be theft proceeds; and, confiscation of an unnamed amount of fentanyl and ecstasy, police said.

Holubetz said addresses were not given for those arrested because they tend to be transient.

Rosa Ramos-Jimenez, 21; Roberto Loyde Jimenez, 26; and Thelma Estrada Altamirano, 37, each face felony burglary and theft charges, police said. They are believed to be part of a crew responsible for the thefts from Macy’s, according to police.

Luminata Zatreanu, 26, and a juvenile are believed to be part of a crew responsible for the Ulta losses, according to the release. She was charged with felony retail theft and theft.

Christopher Warren, 25, Isaiah Rucker, 27, and Gregory Carter, 23, face felony charges of identity theft and are believed to be part of a Texas-based organized crime group, police said.

Besides numerous forged driver’s licenses and ID cards, those arrests led to the recovery of about six Venezuelan migrants from Chicago who police allege were recruited for work under false pretenses and taken to Vernon Hills in the cargo area of a rented box truck, according to the release.

The migrants said they were locked in the truck for more than two hours and that some showed signs of heat exhaustion and feared they might die, according to the release.

Assistance was provided and they were released without charges.

Six of the seven arrested were detained in the Lake County jail pending trial.

Warren was released pending a court date, Holubetz said.

Three other unnamed people were arrested on charges of individual offenses not affiliated with the organized retail crime crews nor tied to a larger crime pattern, police said.

Vernon Hills police were joined by investigators from the Illinois State Police, Gurnee, Mundelein and North Chicago police departments as well as investigators employed privately by 10 different companies, Holubetz said.

Holubetz said the village has received $166,000 in organized retail crime grant funding from Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office the past two fiscal years.

“We know we are a target for organized retail crime,” he added.

Roberto Loyde Jimenez
Thelma Estrada Altamirano
Luminata Zatreanu
Christopher Warren
Isaiah Rucker
Gregory Carter
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