Last week the New York Times wrote a nice piece detailing the progress being made by the Cook County Organized Retail Crime Task force (CCROC).
A twist from other very successful programs, such as the Los Angeles Area Organized Retail Crimes Association (LAAORCA) or the Albuquerque Retail Assets Protection Association (ARAPA), the Cook County State’s Attorney co-leads the program.
According to their website, the purpose of the intra-jurisdictional task force is to provide an organized retail crime communication and operational structure for the purpose of reducing ORC crime impacting participating communities. This network transcends traditional communication channels between the private and public sectors. The intra-jurisdictional task force ensures an organized method of coordinating resources to expedite case closure.
In most cases law enforcement will not work an investigation without some assurance it will be prosecuted later, this structure provides a unique benefit to the program and partners have proven to be successful.
On November 20, the State’s Attorney Office led by Anita Alvarez and David Williams, arrested more than 50 people in a pre-holiday undercover investigation that targeted organized retail theft rings, whose members are stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise from retail outlets throughout Cook County ranging from large suburban shopping malls to high-end boutiques along North Michigan Avenue.
Operation “Whoville,” targeted individuals as well as persons operating in organized retail theft crews, who work together to steal product from retailers at great cost, and then pass along the stolen goods to major “fencing” operations who resell them for significant untaxed profits throughout Cook County and in neighboring counties and states.
The operation include the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agency, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the Chicago Police Department, the Orland Park Police Department, the Schaumburg Police Department and the South Barrington Police Department. The operation also received major support from private sector retailers including Target, JC Penney, Sears, Sam’s Club, Wal-mart, Limited Brands, Victoria’s Secret, The Gap, Banana Republic, Abercrombie, Dominick’s, Jewel, CVS, Toys R Us, Meijer and Macy’s.
Earlier this year, Oscar Valenzuela and Marek Drozd, Counterterrorism and Intelligence Division at the Chicago Police Department, and David Williams, assistant state’s attorney at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, were given an award during the National Retail Federation Loss Prevention Conference, for their work in uncovering a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise.