A couple from Chicago “forced” four children to help them steal nearly $1,000 in merchandise from a suburban Macy’s store that has been an ongoing target of retail theft this holiday season, authorities said Wednesday.
Angelo Almaraz, 26, of Chicago, and his 32-year-old domestic partner Thalia Morales, of Hammond, Indiana, went to the children’s section of the Macy’s in Oak Brook with four young children, ranging in ages from infant to 13 years old, on Monday evening, the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office said. Three of the children belonged to Almaraz and Morales.
The couple allegedly used the eldest two children to pick items off the racks. The children then handed the merchandise to Almaraz and Morales, who stashed them in Nordstrom Rack bags they brought with them, according to prosecutors.
“The allegations that two grown adults enlisted the help of children as they stole nearly one thousand dollars’ worth of merchandise are extremely disturbing,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said.
The group ran from a loss prevention officer, who spotted them as they were leaving the store with the bag of stolen merchandise, before they fled in a car, officials said.
An Oak Brook police officer responded to the area and pulled over the suspects’ vehicle as it was attempting to turn onto Route 83. Authorities said the officer found $962 in stolen merchandise inside the bag and took the couple into custody.
“In this case, it is heartbreaking to have adults force young children into criminal activity,” Oak Brook Deputy Chief of Police Reid Foltyniewicz said.
Almaraz and Morales were both charged with one count each of burglary and retail theft. The couple was released after a judge denied the prosecutors’ motion to detain them both pre-trial.
The Oak Brook Macy’s has been an ongoing target of retail theft, with authorities warning locals and retailers to remain vigilant during the busy holiday shopping season.