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Monday
Nov212011

59 Grinches Arrested in ‘Operation Whoville’ Shoplifting Sting

Cook County State's Attorney Office(CHICAGO) -- A pre-holiday undercover bust dubbed “Operation Whoville” netted 59 professional shoplifters around Chicago who were part of sophisticated fencing rings, police said.

The undercover task force was made up of federal, local and county authorities who aimed to catch the bad guys in the act.

The brazen thieves in these operations are known as “boosters,” or professional shoplifters. Authorities say they often go into a store with a list of items that they know they will be able to sell quickly and for a good price.

“Operation Whoville” began in October and focused on malls in suburban Chicago and stores on the city’s famous downtown shopping street, the Magnificent Mile.

“It was a big operation and the significance was that most of the work done by police departments in regards to financial crime is reactive in nature, but this was a proactive approach,” Orland Park Police Department Chief Tim McCarthy told ABC News.

Those arrested included Phillip Mazurek, a Skokie, Ill., man accused of stealing a $5,000 crystal vase from a store on the Magnificent Mile.

“These things can be sophisticated,” McCarthy said. He said that thieves in one of the rings would ship the stolen goods to Miami and from there the items would shipped to South America to be sold.

“It was a great effort and it’s going to continue,” McCarthy said. “These people who engage in this kind of activity aren’t going to know next time if we’re there watching. There’s hopefully going to be a Whoville Two.”

Whoville was, of course, the fictional town The Grinch ransacks before the holidays in the Dr. Suess classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio