Articles Tagged with Chicago burglary attorney

ORC or organized retail crime is now a huge buzzword for Chicago police after a string of robberies and burglaries targeting valuable retail merchandise. Police now have a man in custody who is believed to be a “ringleader” of a smash and grab ring that netted over $175,000 in capital. The ringleader is facing nine counts of burglary charges. He is suspected in dozens of more burglaries targeting various retail stores in the Chicago area. 

According to police, the suspect was apprehended by his car after private security footage caught the individual and three others dumping cash registers and other merchandise. Police are now targeting the crew employed by the ringleader to carry out the specific burglaries. If precedent has any say, the ringleader will be more than happy to provide any information the police want in exchange for a reduction of his sentence. However, the ringleader must be both willing and able to provide that information. Typically, prosecutors will not want to trade down to get lower-level contributors. The idea is generally to work in the other direction. However, law enforcement has been known to work the opposite way when it benefits them. 

Understanding Burglary Charges

Amid the George Floyd and Brianna Taylor protests, social unrest plagued America’s largest cities. Chicago was no exception. While some of these protests were going on, others took the opportunity to engage in burglary, theft, and destruction of property. Droves of people went block after block, looting one store after another. Four months after, detectives are still going over hour after hour of surveillance footage to identify individuals against whom they can file charges.

The police force is asking for tips on identifying suspects who were seen on camera looting Chicago stores. At the writing of this article, there have been over 1,300 tips based on over 100 clips of footage excavated from security feeds. Likewise, they have been monitoring online retail platforms like Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, and Facebook marketplace to determine if any of the stolen merchandise was placed for sale online. 

The effort has resulted in the arrests of over 100 people. Most are felony charges related to theft, looting, destruction of property, fencing stolen goods, and weapons charges.

jaanus-jagomagi-377699-unsplash-copy-200x300Burglary denotes illegal entry into a building with the intention of stealing property or money. In reality, burglary covers several possible circumstances. The recent burglary attempt in Naperville is one such instance. An 18-year-old and three other teens were involved. Charges of burglary can result in serious charges, depending on the situation.

Burglary as a Criminal Offense

Illinois law has listed several situations that constitute burglary. For instance, illegal entry can signify gaining entry under false pretenses. Normally, Class 2 felony is the sentence given for burglary. This can lead to a prison term of three to seven years, depending on the case.

A prolific shoplifter, who was previously convicted of stealing $ 2 million in merchandise from Toys “R” Us stores in 2012, was arrested and charged with burglary for attempting to steal paintbrushes from a Hobby Lobby in Lombard, IL.  According to a report, the suspect, Ignatius Pollara of Tamarac, IL, served two years in jail for the Toys “R” Us thefts, which involved 139 store locations in 27 states.  He now faces charges in DuPage County.10882873714_a225ec87c4

Allegedly, Pollara took paintbrushes from a Hobby Lobby in Lombard, IL and hid them in his pants near the small of his back.  After doing so, Pollara tried to leave the store and was immediately apprehended.  Police in DuPage and Cook County were alerted beforehand that Pollara was planning a trip to the Chicago area from Florida. They tailed Pollara in the Chicago area, where he spent four nights in different motels, each near a major shopping center.  Additionally, police placed a tracking device on Pollara’s rental car, and a search of the vehicle revealed suspected stolen merchandise. He is charged with one count of felony burglary.

Retail Theft vs. Burglary

Here, Pollara was charged with burglary. A person commits burglary in Illinois if he or she enters or remains in a building, house trailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle, railroad car without authority; and does so with the intent to commit a felony or theft inside. Prosecutors have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the charged individual entered (or remained) with the intent to commit theft or some other felony. Pollara was apprehended attempting to leave the Hobby Lobby with hidden items taken from the store. His pattern of staying in motels near retail stores, along with stolen merchandise found in his car, may be used as evidence to prove that he entered the hobby lobby with the intent to commit theft inside.

Illinois has stringent retail theft or shoplifting laws. In Illinois, a person is guilty of retail theft if he or she knowingly takes possession of, carries away, transfers, or causes to be carried away or transferred any merchandise displayed, held, stored, or offered for sale in a retail establishment with the intention of retaining such merchandise of depriving the merchant permanently of the possession, use, or benefit of such merchandise, without paying the full retail value.

If the value of the items was $300 or less, the retail theft is a Class A misdemeanor. If the value was greater, the defendant can be charged with a Class 4 felony. However, if the defendant has a prior conviction of retail theft, or any theft-related offense such as robbery, armed robbery, residential robbery, possession of burglary tools or home invasion, the offense is automatically a Class 4 felony.

Burglary Penalties

Burglary is considered a Class 2 felony in Illinois, which is punishable by three to seven years in prison.  However, if the suspect had not been convicted of a class 2 felony or greater within the previous ten years, up to four years of probation may be available. If the burglary involved someone’s home, it is considered residential burglary, which is much  more serious. It becomes a Class 1 felony, which is punishable from four to fifteen years in prison and probation is unavailable.

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Ronald E. Kelley Jr., originally from Carterville, IL, was convicted of burglary and attempted residential burglary on April 7 according to a news report.  On June 24, he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for attempted residential burglary and eight years for burglary. He was also required to serve a three-year period of mandatory supervised release on each count.6283422937_acc69eafd1

Kelley was charged with burglarizing an automobile before trying to enter a home in Murphysboro, IL. A woman who lived at the home told dispatchers that she saw a man halfway through her bathroom window. He retreated from her window and fled when she confronted him. The woman later identified the man as Kelley.

According to the police, the woman and car burglary victim gave the same description at the time of the alleged incidents. Officers later found Kelley walking down a road near the homes and searched him. During the search, they found property on Kelley which they identified as having been stolen from a third victim.

Illinois Burglary Law

Under Illinois law, a person commits burglary if he or she enters or remains in a building, house trailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle, or railroad car without authority, and does so with the intent to commit a felony or theft inside. If convicted, burglary is considered a Class 2 felony in Illinois, which is punishable from three to seven years in prison.  Up to four years of probation may be available if there are no convictions of a class 2 felony or greater within the previous ten years. However, if the burglary involved someone’s home, it is considered residential burglary, which is much more serious and considered a class 1 felony. Residential burglary is punishable from four to fifteen years in prison and probation is unavailable.

Possible defenses to burglary may include negating the first element of the offense by proving that the individual had the consent of the owner or occupier of the property to enter.  In these cases, there would be no unauthorized entry.  Even if the defendant misunderstood the owner and erroneously believed he had permission, the belief in the consent, if reasonable, may be enough to defeat a charge of burglary.

Also, burglary requires that a person have the specific intent to commit theft or a felony once inside the property. If a person was intoxicated, it may be a valid defense to the degree that it kept the defendant from forming the specific intent.

The Reliability of Eyewitness Testimony

As in the case above, eyewitness testimony is often the lynchpin evidence used by prosecutors to achieve a burglary conviction.  However, according to the Innocence Project, eyewitness misidentification is the greatest contributing factor to wrongful convictions proven by DNA testing.  Eyewitness testimony plays a role in more than 70% of convictions overturned through DNA testing nationwide. In eyewitness identifications, witness memory is often impacted by a variety of factors that occur from the time of the crime onwards, and human memory is vulnerable and easily contaminated. Therefore, eyewitness testimony is often not as accurate as juries often believe it to be, and police eyewitness identification procedures can have a major effect on the accuracy of identifications.

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A DuPage County couple was arrested and charged in early December with two counts each of burglary, and additional counts of retail theft, for allegedly stealing and selling more than $4,000 worth of merchandise from a string of DuPage County Walmart stores. The charges are Class 2 and Class 3 felonies, respectively. Police allege the couple stole and later sold the items to feed their drug addiction.


DuPage County Commercial Burglary Charge

In Illinois, burglary is committed when a person knowingly and without authority enters, or knowingly and without authority remains, within a building with the intent to commit theft or another felony within the building. Although most people consider burglary to be entering a residence with the intent to steal, a person can be charged with burglary if he enters a building with the intent to kill, rape, or commit any other felony.

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