Lyons Police Chief Thomas Herion with some examples of the items stolen in the $5 million heist. (Photo by Steve Metsch)

Lyons Police Chief Thomas Herion with some examples of the items stolen in the $5 million heist. (Photo by Steve Metsch)

Lyons police break open a huge crime organization

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dvn 10 12 lyons bust warehouse truck

Police video of men unloading stolen merchandise at a warehouse in Chicago. (Supplied photo)

By Steve Metsch

It would have been easy for Lyons Police Officer Dever Kelly to simply report a truck had been broken into and nothing was stolen.

But Kelly, in his second year with the department, went the extra mile. He took photos of what he saw inside the truck, of boxes that were broken into.

And because of that, the Lyons Police Department played a key role in busting open a national crime organization that has stolen at least $5 million in goods.

dvn 10 12 lyons bust edwin aguirre ramirez

Edwin Aguirre-Ramirez

The thieves brazenly stole trucks filled with goods that were often carried by rail and – so far – swiped about $5 millions in goods in five states.

That number may grow larger as the investigation continues, Lyons Police Chief Thomas Herion said at a news conference  Thursday morning at the Lyons Village Hall.

“(Kelly) took some very in-depth photos that led us to our probable cause to get into that building. He did a great job,” Herion said of an investigation that led to Chicago’s West Side.

Kelly attended the news conference but declined to comment.

Kelly was called to the truck, parked at a storage site where the old quarry was at First Avenue and Ogden Avenue, a short distance from the police department, on Sept. 19.

Detective work afterwards led to a warehouse and showroom in Chicago, 5420 W. Roosevelt Road, where many more stolen items were found.

Some were even being sold in a showroom dubbed Ozzie’s Shoes, Herion said.

dvn 10 12 lyons bust erik lujano bautista

Erik Lujano-Bautista

“They went in and opened boxes (in the truck). We got photos of the boxes ripped open and they matched what was in that store,” Herion said.

Two Cicero men have been arrested and charged in the investigation that has spread to Tennessee, North Carolina, Arkansas and California, Herion said.

Lyons Mayor Christopher Getty was proud of the police and their hard work, noting that “what began as a routine investigation of a reported break-in of a semitrailer” led to much more.

“Although nothing was taken, police remained vigilant and suspicious. The suspects returned within 24 hours, and made off with the semitrailer and its cargo, which consisted of 809 cartons valued at $42,000 and consisted mostly of toys,” Getty said.

The trailer was taken to the warehouse on Roosevelt Road and abandoned nearby.

“This is an example of effective, profession and diligent investigative police work by the Lyons Police. This incident led to a national criminal enterprise where millions of dollars of stolen goods were recovered,” Getty said.

Merchandise from Adidas, Apple, Nike, Supreme, Ugg and Yeezy was recovered.

Two 24-year-old Cicero men were arrested when Lyons and Chicago police, bearing a search warrant, visited the site on Roosevelt Road on Oct. 6, Herion said.

Erik Lujano-Bautista was charged with burglary and possession of stolen property. Edwin Aguirre-Ramirez was charged with burglary. Each charge is a Class 2 felony.

Chicago police from the tactical unit in the 15th District were on the scene when Lyons police visited the warehouse, Herion said.

While Herion declined to say exactly how Lyons detectives determined the location was on Roosevelt Road, he did say, “We were able to gain additional information through surveillance and hours of watching activity at that location.”

Several subjects were seen unloading the semitrailer that had been stolen from Lyons, Herion said.

Five men were taken into custody, and, while the other three have not yet been charged, they “are still under investigation,” Herion said, as they could have ties to thefts in other states.

Police found the property that had been stolen from Lyons along with “a vast amount of boxes of Nike shoes and Adidas shoes” along with other high-priced products from Apple, jeans worth $350 a pair, T-shirts valued at $55 each, and luxury watches.

Among the items recovered were basketball shoes intended for the men’s college teams at Indiana, Arizona State and Kansas, he said.

“They were operating out of there, selling shoes and also selling merchandise to wholesalers,” Herion said of the crime ring.

Some of the thefts were from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and Union Pacific property, he said.

“We are coordinating with federal agencies because this is an interstate theft ring. The approximate value is close to $5 million in merchandise. I believe the Nike shoes were close to $3.5 million,” Herion said.

“Nike said this is the biggest seizure of stolen merchandise they had in 2023 and of the biggest in history for Nike,” the chief added.

Lyons police, he said, “leave no stone unturned.”

“When we get a crime, we do everything we possibly can to solve that problem as fast as possible. Our goal is safety of victims, protection of residents and, in the end, recovery of property. We did all three. Everything worked out exceptionally well,” Herion said.

Future charges are likely against the two men who have been arrested, he said.

“It’s a very sophisticated, very well-run operation,” Herion said. “Maybe they have inside information, not from the railroad, but from the shippers? We don’t know that yet. That’s what we’re looking for.

“But they’re able to hook up to these trailers, take them off the premises and take them to a location that was either in their state, where they’d unload it and mail (items) to Chicago, or if a Chicago theft, drive them right to the location,” Herion said.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is looking for stolen merchandise, he said.

“This is branching out. Every day, it gets a little bit bigger,” Herion said.

To avoid this problem from growing, Herion said he would “put GPS into every vehicle. … You can track a car anywhere. Where is it at, what neighborhood is it going to?”

Adding a GPS unit to semitrailers would “make it very easy to track these loads.”

The showroom on Roosevelt Road included vintage Air Jordan shoes selling for $2,000 or more, he said. Some shoes were selling for $15,000 a pair.

“If I own a shoe store and buy product, I’m going to the manufacturer. I’m not going to go to a warehouse at 5420 W. Roosevelt Road to buy a shipment of shoes I can sell at my store. That’s not how you do it.”

Some retailers that purchased items were mom-and-pop stores. Others were larger companies.

“Whether they knew it was stolen or not, I don’t know. Whether they thought it was a wholesale house, I don’t know. But there’s no doubt they were able to save a lot of money on a lot of products.

“This is all about money,” Herion added.

After the news conference, Village Trustee Dan Hilker said “the police did a good job.”

“I hope the community recognizes this. They look out for the community,” Hilker said. “Tom (Herion) does a good job. He keeps a nice mix of older and younger officers working together.”

dvn 10 12 lyons bust room full of stolen merch

Boxes of stolen merchandise were recovered from a warehouse in Chicago. (Supplied photo)

3 Comments

  1. Cinderella on October 12, 2023 at 9:23 pm

    Unbelievable. But then it figures.



  2. […] Story continues […]



  3. Lois Lawson on October 15, 2023 at 6:30 pm

    What a wonderful news story this is! I wish all community Police were as vigilant! Good job, guys!



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