'Whoville' Shoplifting Sting Nabs 50 'Grinches'

More than 50 people were arrested for stealing at malls and stores, says prosecutors

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    More than 50 people got thrown into jail before their hearts had a chance to grow three times larger.

    Organized retail theft rings were targeted by the State’s Attorney Regional Organized Crime Task Force during a month-long undercover sting called Operation “Whoville.” Investigators kept watch on Woodfield Mall in Schamburg, Orland Square Mall in Orland Park and several Mag Mile stores in October, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said Sunday.

    They recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in jewelry, designer clothing, DVDs and baby formula. 

    “These theft groups are very sophisticated," Alvarez said at a Sunday press conference. “They have the ability to fence these items and know exactly where to take them.” 

    A total of 59 people were arrested during the operation and charged with felony retail theft, including: Phillip Mazurek, 65, of Skokie, arrested in a Nov. 18 sting at 900 N. Michigan; Andrew Owens, 22, of Chicago, arrested Oct. 18 at Woodfield Mall; and Della Nicholson, 46, of Chicago, arrested Oct. 27 at Orland Park Mall.

    Alvarez said theft costs the retail industry about $30 billion annually, leading to higher costs for shoppers.

    The task force includes more than 800 law enforcement agencies and retailers.

    “This is an ongoing effort that will find us waiting for them in the future,” said Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy.