$7 Million Shoplifting Scheme: Father, Mother, Daughter Arrested

Thursday, 06 Mar 2014 12:04 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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A suburban Chicago father, mother, and daughter have been accused of shoplifting more than $7 million worth of dolls, toys, and cosmetics over the course of a decade, according to a federal complaint.

Branko Bogdanov, 58, Lela Bogdanov, 52, and Julia Bogdanov, 34, were arrested earlier this week at their Northbrook, Ill., home after the family returned from an alleged three-day, multi-state shoplifting spree in Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana, authorities told The Associated Press. 

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The trio appeared Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago and will be held until a detention hearing next week. Federal prosecutors claim in a 20-page complaint that the family worked together to hit stores in Maryland, Tennessee, and Florida as well as other states.

"If this type of crime continues unchecked, the costs will be passed from the retailer to the common shopper," Frank Benedetto, head of the Secret Service office in Chicago, told the AP.

The Secret Service became involved in the investigation after Barnes and Noble Inc. and Toys R Us Inc. contacted them about "a huge loss in merchandise." With the help of the auction website eBay.com, authorities linked stolen items to the family's alleged online trading account. Cooperating witnesses agreed to provide information on the Bogdanovs.

If convicted, the Bogdanovs face 10 years in prison for each count of interstate transportation of stolen property.

The Chicago Tribune reported that federal prosecutors accuse the family of stealing items ranging from Lego blocks to expensive dolls to electronics and cosmetics that were concealed under their clothes.

Authorities said that the alleged thieves are known as "boosters," people who zero in on multiple stores daily in a wide variety of areas.

"These are not kids stealing some gum or a drug addict taking one item," Jack Blakey, of Cook County state's attorney’s office, told the Tribune. "These are professional crews that are targeting specific property. It's difficult for law enforcement to connect the dots if they're all working independently."

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