Two Venezuelan migrants residing in Chicago were charged with stealing nearly $3,000 in merchandise from a suburban Macy’s on Tuesday and prompted authorities to warn of an uptick in migrant criminal activity coming from the city.
Luis Mendez-Gomez, 28, and Frank Montez-Davila, 23, left the Macy’s store in Oak Brook, Illinois, around 1:40 p.m. carrying a "happy birthday" bag and a backpack containing merchandise, DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office said.
Oak Brook police officers on patrol spotted the men’s "suspicious behavior" and saw them enter a car that left the scene, prosecutors said.
Officers conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and discovered 16 high-end fragrances and a pair of pants with a total approximate value of $2,832.50, officials said.
Prosecutors alleged that Mendez-Gomez and Montes-Davila entered the Macy’s store together and that once inside the store, Mendez-Gomez removed the "happy birthday" bag and backpack from under his shirt and the pair filled the bag and backpack with the fragrances and pants before leaving the store without paying.
Both men are charged with one count of burglary and one count of retail theft. Mendez-Gomez was additionally cited for misdemeanor driving without a valid driver’s license.
Mendez-Gomez and Montes-Davila made their first appearances before a judge Wednesday morning, when the judge allowed them to be released after rejecting prosecutors motion to deny pre-trial release.
"We are firm in our efforts against organized retail crime as we endlessly protect our community," Oak Brook Deputy Chief of Police Reid Foltyniewicz said in a written statement. "We want everyone to be aware of the increase in criminal activity from the migrant community coming from Chicago."
The arrests come just a week after police arrested two other Venezuelan migrants who were caught stealing more than $1,700 worth of goods from the same store. Both migrants also resided in Chicago.
In that case, Abel Barrios-Estava and Rafael Mata-Torres were each charged and released on the condition they each wear an electronic monitoring device.