Police say major department store theft ring busted during traffic stop

Illinois State Police say they found thousands of dollars worth of items stolen from department stores during a routine traffic stop.

A trooper stopped a rented black 2014 Ford Fusion for allegedly speeding on I-55 near milepost 66 Tuesday, June 24, 2014.  The two women in the car reportedly told the trooper they were traveling from Springfield, Illinois to St. Louis.

During the traffic stop, the trooper discovered both women had outstanding felony warrants for their arrest.  Then the trooper discovered the car they were in matched the description of a getaway vehicle connected to  a major department store theft.  Police said troopers who searched the car found retail merchandise in department store and garbage bags, keys like those used to access department store display cases, side cutters, department store UPC stickers and a container of pepper spray.

“The total amount of stolen merchandise recovered from the vehicle was approximately $6,500,” said a statement from Illinois State Police.

The driver, 51-year-old Shawn Thomas and the passenger, 34-year-old LaTonya Jackson, were arrested.  Police said Thomas had outstanding warrants for parole violation in Illinois and for felon theft in Missouri, and she did not have a valid driver’s license.  Jackson reportedly had outstanding warrants for criminal damage to property in Illinois and felony stealing in Missouri.

“Thomas and Jackson are suspected of organizing a large retail theft ring that has been in operation for approximately 18 months,” the state police statement said, “(One) department store alone estimates its losses as a result of the illegal theft operation at approximately $63,000.”

In addition to their outstanding warrants, Thomas and Jackson were arrested and each charged with possession of stolen property and felony theft.  Both women were held in the Montgomery County, Illinois Jail.

Court records show Thomas was jailed in lieu of $100,000 cash-only bond; Jackson was held in lieu of $100,000 bond for which 10% was required.  Both women were scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, July 1, 2014.