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Interstate Theft Ring Busted

Updated: Wednesday, February 25 2015, 11:00 PM CST
ILLINOIS -- State police say an interstate theft ring is shut down thanks to a pair of arrests made on 1-55 between Springfield and St. Louis.

State police, arresting two women from St. Louis.

Shawn Thomas and LaTonya Jackson, were pulled over for speeding.

That's when a trooper checked their information and found their rental car was wanted in connection with a recent theft down in Marion, in southern Illinois.

Investigators say the two are behind a ring that crossed from Missouri to Illinois stealing thousands of dollars in merchandise along the way.

Theft costs the retail industry about $82 million a day, which adds up to billions every year.

A cost that local businesses and consumers share, but Illinois is working to address the problem.

"There's always someone who thinks they can get it the easy way," said Matt Noonan III, President of Noonan True Value.

A common problem for the retail industry that has to spend money to protect its assets. Matt Noonan says being proactive and trying to prevent thieves comes at a cost.

"Well it's substantial enough to be a percentage of the total cost of doing business," said Noonan.

That cost often includes security measures like cameras and scanners in addition to the loss of profits when people steal.

"30 billion dollars, that's a lot of money, there's no way you can pass all of that on to the consumer. That's why we've take legislative initiatives in the state of Illinois to combat retail theft, particularly organized retail theft where rings of people operate from town to town and then they sell or fence the goods," said Rob Karr, President and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

Local businesses are seeing theft evolve. It's not just a grab and run situation anymore

"He was actually using a fradulent name to get it out the door. The merchandise went through the check out, but it wasn't him, it wasn't the right guy, but we could identify him. We have a name and the police just have to work it until we can find him," said Noonan.

Large companies have hired their own law enforcement teams to catch thieves, and the IRMA worked with the general assembly to pass laws assist retailers efforts.

"We've given within the confines of the law the retailers the ability to conduct their sting operations. So it's really just allowing the retailers and law enforcement to go after them here and to make it the least favorable atmosphere for thieves possible," said Karr. Interstate Theft Ring Busted

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