Police in Wilmette, a wealthy suburb north of Chicago, have arrested eight suspects tied to a theft ring accused of stealing $7.5 million with of goods from a number of retail stores in and outside Chicago.
With assistance from local, federal and retail-focused law enforcement partners, the Wilmette Police Department (WPD) executed 12 search warrants on Oct. 6 in Chicago, Cicero, Oak Lawn, Bolingbrook, as well as three in California, resulting in the recovery the $7.5 million worth of stolen property after about a yearlong investigation.
“I’m primarily proud of the good police work. It’s having knowledgeable and skilled detectives that can handle a complex, organized retail crime investigation,” WPD Chief Kyle Murphy told Fox News Digital. “It’s having an excellent relationship with our private retailers and their organized retail crime groups. Without that partnership, we would not be successful in investigating or prosecuting a case like this.”
The ring leaders would employ people to commit retail thefts targeting mainly over-the-counter items from major retailers across the Chicago area.
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The thieves would then resell the stolen items to storefronts operated by the ring leaders, where they made about “10 to 20 cents on the dollar,” Murphy explained. The ring leaders would then strip the items of their identifying retailer information and attempt to sell them online and ship them to the East and West coasts.
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One officer initially made a retail theft arrest and asked the suspect where he intended to sell a stolen product. The suspect told the officer a location, which kicked off a broader investigation into the theft ring, Murphy said.
“Organized retail crime is on the increase. It [has] a negative economic impact on retailers,” the police chief explained. “Our biggest concern is that of safety. Most of these over-the-counter medications, allergy and healthcare products are resold on third-party online marketplaces. The consumer does not know where they are purchasing expired medications.”
All eight suspects are facing multiple charges related to the theft ring.
In the Chicago area, Hani Hamad, 51, is charged with theft, money laundering, wire fraud and filing a fraudulent income tax return; Iaad Hamad, 48, is charged with being the organizer of a continuing financial crimes enterprise, theft, money laundering and failure to file an income tax return; Michael Beals, 41, is facing charges of continuing a financial crimes enterprise and failure to file an income take return; Fe Kiesha Hamlin, 41, is charged with theft, money laundering, wire fraud and filing a fraudulent income tax return; Markell Spencer, 35, is charged with continuing a financial enterprise and conspiracy to launder money.
In California, Dyland Bryant, 28, is charged with theft, money laundering and conspiracy to launder money; Donald Kimball, 27, faces charged of theft, money laundering and conspiracy to launder money; and Brett Pendleton, 26, is also charged with theft, money laundering and conspiracy to launder money.
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They are each being held on bail between $500,000 and $1 million.
The defendants set up multiple bank accounts in an attempt to hide the origins of the funds they received from selling the stolen goods and used their illegal proceeds to make purchases, including residential properties, to fund the operation, according to police.