According to authorities on Wednesday, a couple from Chicago “forced” four kids to assist them in stealing about $1,000 worth of goods from a suburban Macy’s store that has been the focus of retail crime this holiday season.
Four young children, ages one to thirteen, were brought by their 32-year-old domestic partner Thalia Morales of Hammond, Indiana, and 26-year-old Chicagoan Angelo Almaraz to the children’s area of Macy’s in Oak Brook on Monday night, according to the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office. Almaraz and Morales were the parents of three of the children.
The couple allegedly picked goods off the racks with the help of their two oldest children. Prosecutors claim that after the kids gave the goods to Almaraz and Morales, they hid them in the Nordstrom Rack bags they had brought.
“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.
After being seen by a loss prevention officer carrying the bag of stolen goods as they were leaving the store, the gang left in a car, according to officials.
As the suspects’ vehicle attempted to turn onto Route 83, an Oak Brook police officer came to the scene and stopped it. The police put the couple into arrest after discovering $962 worth of stolen goods inside the bag, according to the authorities.
“In this case, it is heartbreaking to have adults force young children into criminal activity,” Oak Brook Deputy Chief of Police Reid Foltyniewicz said.
Both Almaraz and Morales were charged with one count each of retail theft and burglary. A judge rejected the prosecutor’s request to hold the couple in custody pending trial, and the couple was freed.
Authorities have issued a warning to residents and retailers to exercise extra caution during the hectic holiday shopping season because Oak Brook Macy’s has been a frequent target of retail theft.