Gold Coast

Charges Filed Against ‘Ringleader' of Smash-and-Grab Burglary Crew That Tossed Cash Registers on Pritzker's Block, Hit Burberry Store Twice

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Charges were filed Tuesday against a man accused of heading a crew that pulled off at least nine smash-and-grab burglaries in recent months, targeting a range of stores and in one case leaving stolen cash registers strewn across Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s tony Gold Coast street.

Tacarre Harper, 27, from South Austin, was charged with nine felony counts of burglary, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. He had several outstanding warrants at the time of his arrest.

An internal Chicago police memo says Harper was identified as a member of “an organized group” that carried out nine overnight burglaries between last November and last month.

Harper used “blunt objects to break windows or applied force on the entry” and removed merchandise or cash, according to a police report. The total estimated loss was $175,000, according to the memo.

Much of that — $150,000 — came from two burglaries at the high-end Burberry store on the Magnificent Mile on Jan. 4 and Jan. 6. The day of the second burglary at Burberry, the crew left cash registers and “burglary proceeds” near Pritzker’s doorstep after earlier hitting two markets in Lake View, the police documents show.

At the time, a police spokesperson said the department was investigating whether burglars at the Lake View stores had dumped the cash registers on Pritzker’s block before targeting Burberry. The crew had previously hit convenience and liquor stores, as well as a Game Stop in North Austin, according to the police report.

Another person described as a “co-offender” was previously arrested and merchandise was recovered and returned to Burberry, according to the memo. That suspect has been charged in other burglaries, but not any at Burberry.

Harper, who was described by a police source as the “ringleader” of the crew, is also suspected in dozens of other burglaries in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, targeting liquor, electronics and clothing stores, the police memo states.

He was taken into custody after Chicago police officers, working with U.S, marshals and the Great Lakes Regional Task Force, identified a Hyundai Genesis while doing surveillance in the 600 block of North Leclaire, the police report states.

When the officers approached him, Harper ran into a home and closed the door, according to the report. He was eventually taken into custody in the basement and had just $5 on him.

Cook County court records show he has an extensive criminal history and at least three pending cases.

An arrest warrant was signed last month when Harper failed to appear for a hearing in a 2021 burglary case out of Chicago, court records show. He also has a pending gun case from later that year, and pending robbery and identity theft charges from 2019.

In addition, the police report notes he was wanted on a warrant out of Lake County in an aggravated fleeing case.

He was most recently given a one-day sentence for a 2019 misdemeanor retail theft charge from Melrose Park, court records show. And in 2016, he was charged with criminal trespass and sentenced to two days in prison.

He also pleaded guilty in 2014 to aggravated battery, getting a two-year prison sentence. A year earlier, he was sentenced to another year in prison and 30 months probation in separate drug cases.

Harper is expected in bond court Tuesday.

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