- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago police announced arrests Tuesday in connection with a series of burglaries in which thieves used vehicles to slam through front windows to gain access to loot.

More than 40 businesses were targeted, netting the thieves more than $2 million in merchandise ranging from electronics, to fur coats, to designer jeans.

Surveillance video recorded the thieves using stolen vehicles to crash into businesses before racing from the scene with merchandise. Police say the two-yearlong crime spree was the work of gang members.

The four men arrested were identified as Kenneth C. Greene, 23, Jawon Sellers, 24, Tommie Adams, 22, and Hershel Phillips, 18. An unnamed juvenile was also arrested, and four other men are being sought.

“Instead of selling drugs and engaging in the types of violent crimes normally associated with street gangs, this particular crew has focused on burglarizing these high-end consumer retail stores and boutiques,” said Police Cmdr. Eugene Roy. “Criminals are criminals. They’re looking for a way to make money, and they’re looking for an easy way to make money.”

The men began their alleged crime spree by using crowbars and other hand tools to smash the glass windows of the targeted stores, according to authorities. When businesses responded with better security, the men are accused of resorting to using stolen vehicles to drive through the doorways of these targeted stores.

Dozens of others may have been involved in the alleged burglaries in Chicago, the suburbs and other parts of the Midwest, authorities said. The retailers targeted range from big box stores, to high-end boutiques and mom-and-pop businesses on Chicago’s South and West Sides.

The break in the case came after a Dec. 10 burglary at Nieman Marcus on Michigan Avenue, according to police. Two alleged thieves were arrested after becoming trapped in the vehicle.

Much of the merchandise stolen during the crime spree won’t be recovered because the crew sold it quickly, making 30 to 50 cents on the dollar, said Police Commander Eugene Roy.

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