Cops comparing notes after burglaries in Aurora, Oak Brook
Several area police departments are working together to probe a string of burglaries in which intruders are using vehicles to smash into stores and escape with high-end merchandise.
The most recent occurred early Tuesday morning when burglars drove a minivan into the Salvatore Ferragamo store at the Chicago Premium Outlets Mall in Aurora and escaped with more than $40,000 in purses and luggage, authorities said. Damage to the building was estimated at $20,000.
The manner in which the crime was carried out is nearly identical to the September burglary of a Louis Vuitton store at Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook.
Aurora police spokesman Dan Ferrelli wouldn't speculate on whether the crimes are related, but said Aurora investigators are communicating with law enforcement officials in other towns.
Similar burglaries also have occurred at several stores in Chicago.
"We'll collectively compare notes and look at any evidence that those other agencies may have and try to find out who is responsible for this," Ferrelli said.
The Aurora burglary happened around 4:30 a.m. when intruders drove a Dodge Grand Caravan through the front window of the Salvatore Ferragamo store. At least four people got out of the minivan, loaded their stash and then drove off before police arrived.
"It was brazen," Ferrelli said. "It appears these offenders had the crime planned out."
Ferrelli said the burglars ended up abandoning the damaged minivan, which had been stolen in Chicago, in the mall parking lot.
"The vehicle was met in the parking lot by someone driving a small, dark-colored sedan," he said. "They put everything into that sedan and made off with it."
A security guard responding to the alarm said he saw the car pull alongside the minivan. However, he couldn't see the damage from his angle so he didn't stop it, police said.
Darcy Rutzen, area manager for Chicago Premium Outlets, said in a statement that this is the first such crime to occur at the center. She didn't say whether additional security measures have been implemented.
"Since this incident is now the subject of a police investigation, we are not at liberty to release any information," Rutzen said. "Please be assured that the safety of our shoppers is our highest priority."
In September, eight people wearing masks and gloves entered the Louis Vuitton store in Oak Brook after a minivan was used to smash through the doors at the front of the business. That crime also was committed around 4 a.m.
The intruders in the Louis Vuitton burglary escaped with more than 50 items worth more than $120,000 from the luxury purse maker, authorities said.
Ferrelli said the crimes in Oak Brook, Aurora and Chicago are "very rare."
He said a vast majority of "smash-and-grab" burglaries involve someone breaking a window with a blunt object, entering a store and then taking whatever they can grab.
In addition to using a vehicle to break into a business, the burglars in the Aurora case made sure they were in and out within a matter of minutes.
"By all indications, they knew what they were doing," Ferrelli said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Aurora police at (630) 256-5500 or Aurora Area Crime Stoppers at (630) 892-1000.