CHICAGO — Police seized more than $100,000 worth of stolen items from stores on the Northwest Side in “Operation Cheap Smokes.”
In the scam, business operators paid shoplifters discounted rates for stolen coffee, cold medicine, soda, razor blades, teeth whitening strips and cigarettes, according to a statement from the Chicago Police Department.
On Wednesday, officers raided three Northwest Side stores that were selling the stolen goods: Discount Cigarettes, in the 2900 of North Milwaukee Avenue, School Snack Grocery and Tobacco, in the 3900 block of West School Street, and Euro Communications, in the 5300 block of West Belmont Avenue.
Three suburban men were arrested for selling the items at the Chicago stores and online, and search warrants of their homes led police to $100,000 in cash and five vehicles bought with profits from the scheme, police said.
Mahmoud Yassin, 60, and his son Yassin Yassin, 18, of suburban Orland Park, were each charged with two felony counts of theft. Numa Shlain, 67, of suburban Buffalo Grove, was charged with one felony count of theft.
Officers made several undercover buys during their investigation in which they recorded price negotiations while posing as shoplifters, officials said.
Police recovered “numerous” stolen items and more than 6,300 packages of cigarettes without proper tax stamps at the stores. More than 360 of the stolen cigarette packages were hidden behind a false wall at School Snack Grocery and Tobacco, police said.