$7 million shoplifting case shines light on crime's bottom line

March 6, 2014 (NORTHBROOK, Ill.)

Last year, shoplifters at a local Sports Authority Store got away with racks full of clothing- within seconds. That theft cost the retailer, and the consumer, according to Peter Gill, Illinois Restaurant Merchants Association.

"Every time something is taken and not paid for from a retail store, you and I, the consumer, pay for it," Gill said.

Shoplifting costs the average American family about $400 a year, according to some reports. Gill said $1.5 billion in goods is stolen just in Illinois.

"If those items were sold instead of stolen they would give the state about $90 million in sales tax alone. $90 million while they're cutting social programs because they didn't have enough money. That's a lot," Gill said.

According to the non-for-profit group National Shoplifting Prevention Coalition more than $13 billion worth of goods are stolen from retailers each year, which is more than $35 million worth of goods per day. And, approximately three-percent of shoplifters are professionals who steal for resale or profit.

Authorities allege a Northbrook couple and their adult daughter were doing just that. Branko Bogdanov, 58; his wife, Lela Bogdanov, 52; and their daughter, Julia Bogdanov, 34; were arrested on Wednesday. They're accused of operating a multi-million dollar shoplifting ring. They allegedly stole $7.1 million worth of items in the last decade, and made $4 million of those items.

Shoplifting is not a victimless crime, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney David Williams said. He runs the Cook County Regional Organized Crime Taskforce.

"A lot of these groups have ties to transnational groups and terrorists groups," Cook County Regional Organized Crime Taskforce, said.

Officials said Illinois has some of the toughest retail theft laws in the nation.

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