CPD, Walgreens joint investigation leads to theft ring

CPD, Walgreens joint investigation leads to arrests

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WalgreensA joint investigation by Walgreens and the Chicago Police Department uncovered an extensive theft ring that led them to the recovery of thousands of dollars in products and the arrests of three suspects in connection.

Walgreens Organized Retail Crime Department contacted the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Organized Crime Intelligence Section after they had learned of spikes in theft and burglaries in Chicago and the surrounding areas, according to a news release.

Walgreens uses plastic totes to transport merchandise to their locations across the nation. The totes contained tens of thousands of dollars in products. Walgreens Organized Retail Crime Department discovered that a multiple number of totes were stolen. An internal investigation led to the investigators to a warehouse located at 1435 West Exchange Avenue in the city’s Back of the Yards neighborhood.

Walgreens Organized Retail Crime Director, Jerry Biggs, made contact with the warehouse building’s owner and the CPD’s Bureau of Organized Crime Intelligence Section, who were conducting their own local investigation.

With the warehouse building owner’s corporation, Walgreens and the CPD discovered hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of plastic totes, pallets, and trays inside the warehouse. Contents of the containers revealed products from not only Walgreens, but manufacturers such as Coca-Cola, Jewel-Osco, U.S. Postal Service and a dozen other companies that were stolen.

Also discovered were several tons of pulverized plastic. Through this investigation, it was determined that the stolen plastic products in the warehouse would be reduced to very small plastic pieces with the use of heavy machinery. These tiny pieces would then be put into cardboard containers, sold to an unknown male, who in turn would ship them to China. It is likely that tons of stolen plastic has already been shipped.

Three arrests have been made in connection to the burglaries. Omar Castaneda, 45, and Omar Castaneda, 24, both from the 3500 Block of West 62nd Street, and Eduardo Centeno, 34,  from the 1900 Block of West 51st Street. All three have been charged with one misdemeanor count of theft, lost/mislaid property and have a court date of July 7.

Walgreens Company thanked the Cook County Regional Organized Crime Task Force and the Chicago Police Department for their aid in the investigation.

“This investigation is a great example of how through the Cook County Regional Organized Crime Task Force companies can work with the Chicago Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to address issues that affect the entire community,” said Briggs.

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