A Chicago man led a group of late-night thieves that broke into Burberry’s flagship store on the Mag Mile twice in a week last month — once just minutes after they dumped a cash register from convenience store burglary outside Gov. JB Pritzker’s mansion in the Gold Coast, prosecutors said Tuesday.
It’s another big win for CPD’s newly-formed Organized Retail Crime Task Force.
Tacarre Harper, 27, is charged with nine counts of felony burglary. He was already on bonds for three other felony cases in Cook County at the time of the break-ins — one for robbery, one for burglary, and one for illegal gun possession. He also has warrants in other counties for felony fleeing and eluding and retail theft.
Prosecutors said Burberry alone lost $150,000 in its two burglaries on January 4 and January 6. But Harper and his companions, who prosecutors said he identified after being arrested, are suspected of many more crimes.
Using the name “Raymoney Stacks” on Facebook, Harper posted videos and photos of merchandise, including a $1,995 Dolce & Gabbana purse, Gucci sunglasses, Nike merchandise still on its hangers, and a trunkload of sports gear.
“I got over 1,000 hats,” he said in one video, posted on November 1.
Prosecutors alleged Tuesday that other videos show Harper driving around with his crew before the break-ins. In another clip, he lines up bottles of alcohol, which he proceeds to pour on a grave.
After his arrest, Harper identified himself in surveillance images from the break-ins, many of which clearly showed his distinctive face tattoos sticking out from under a ski mask that had an unusually generous opening, according to a source.
Assistant State’s Attorney Loukas Kalliantasis detailed all nine break-ins for Judge Mary Marubio during Harper’s bail hearing.
At 1:03 a.m. on November 26, Harper and three others smashed the glass of a GameStop at 1520 North Cicero and stole $5,000 worth of merchandise, Kalliantasis said. Within the next three hours, they allegedly took $5,000 worth of alcohol from D&D Wine and Spirits, 2006 West Division, and $3,000 worth of merchandise from DJ Wine & Spirits, 6111 West Division.
On December 8, Harper and a woman allegedly stole cash, cigarettes, and booze from Parkside Food and Liquor, 3920 West Diversey.
That break-in would later become a key element in the police investigation. So keep it in mind.
On December 28, Harper and four companions stole crates and garbage bins full of alcohol from S&L Liquors, 4958 West Fullerton, Kalliantasis said.
Then, the big ones came.
On January 4, Harper and three accomplices pulled up to Burberry, 633 North Michigan, at 5:52 a.m. and pulled on the front door until it burst open, Kalliantasis alleged. They all ran inside, stealing bags and shoes worth $70,000.
After his arrest on Monday, Harper showed detectives pictures on his phone of the purses he stole from the store, Kalliantasis said.
The final three break-ins came between 4 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. on January 6.
First, the crew broke into Apple Bite, 2919 North Broadway, and took $5,550 worth of cash and booze.
Then, they moved to Belmont Harbor Market, 401 West Belmont, and took another $2,500 worth of alcohol. Video from the store shows Harper wearing a Moose Knuckles-brand coat during the break-in and a female accomplice hauling out a trash can full of liquor, Kalliantasis said. Keep that Moose Knuckles detail in mind, too.
They all fled in a Dodge Durango that, minutes later, pulled up in front of the home of a “prominent Illinois politician,” according to Kalliantasis.
Surveillance video from the politician’s neighbor shows four people dumping cash registers, garbage cans, and cash wrappers taken from the night’s earlier break-ins.
Of course, as CWBChicago reported that morning, the “prominent Illinois politician” is Gov. JB Pritzker, who lives on the 1400 block of North Astor in the Gold Coast.
After unloading their trash in front of the governor’s mansion, the crew again pulled on Burberry’s door until it broke and escaped with another $80,000 worth of purses, bags, and coats, Kalliantasis said.
Judge Mary Marubio set Harper’s bail at $200,000 cash, meaning he must pay the entire $200,000 to get out of jail on electronic monitoring. Separately, Marubio ordered him held without bail for violating the terms of release in all three of his pending Cook County felony cases.
Harper participated in “dozens” of additional burglaries of liquor stores and clothing retailers across the city and suburbs, CPD Supt. David Brown said Tuesday evening. More arrests and charges will be made, he said.
The January 6 crimes were an important development in the investigation. Previously, CPD was investigating a months-long string of liquor store burglaries across the North Side separately from break-ins at high-end retailers. But the burglary crew drew a clear connection between two Lakeview liquor store heists, the governor’s mansion, and Burberry that morning.
As unlikely as it may seem, investigators determined, the same people who were hitting mom ‘n’ pop stores were also pulling big heists on and near the Mag Mile and at other retail locations.
Police gained a big break in the case on January 17 when a woman, 27-year-old Emma Murphy, was involved in a car crash in Oak Park, according to a source.
Inside Murphy’s car, Oak Park cops found merchandise that was taken by a burglary team that broke into a FootLocker on the 2700 block of North Narragansett around 1 a.m. the same day, prosecutors said. The price tags were still attached, and the clothes were still on their hangers, according to the allegations.
Chicago police took her into custody from Oak Park, and CPD detectives linked her with a burglary crew that broke into a jewelry store early on January 17 and — here comes the break — the December 8 liquor store burglary on the 3900 block of West Diversey that Harper was charged with on Tuesday.
Chicago cops were particularly intrigued by an article of clothing Murphy allegedly had: a fur headband from the high-end winter clothing retailer Moose Knuckles, whose location just a few hundred yards from the Mag Mile had been targeted by late-night raiders twice — including once within minutes of the January 4 break-in at Burberry.
Prosecutors charged Murphy with the FootLocker, jewelry store, and liquor store break-ins, and Judge Charles Beach released her on her own recognizance with electronic monitoring on January 19.
Court records show Harper stopped showing up in court for his pending burglary case five days later. A judge issued a warrant for his arrest in that case on January 24. By then, CPD’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force was already on his heels.
“Maximum conditions recommended”
His pending burglary case began on March 2 of last year after he was allegedly caught on video using a rock to break into Red Star Liquor, 2725 North Milwaukee, to steal cigarettes and liquor.
A police officer familiar with Harper recognized him from surveillance video based on his face and neck tattoos, a prosecutor said at the time.
Court records show that a pretrial services advisor recommended that Judge David Navarro give Harper “maximum conditions” if Navarro decided to release him on bail. The court officer said, if Harper were to be released, the likelihood of him committing a new offense or not appearing in court were both at level 6, the highest possible.
Instead of maximum conditions, Navarro set bail at $5,000, which allowed Harper, who prosecutors said had a pending robbery case, to get out of jail by posting a $500 deposit.
News reports indicate that Harper was arrested in Northbrook in 2017 for allegedly filing a false police report that officials believed was an attempt to distract officers from a “flash mob” shoplifting incident unfolding in the city.
In November 2019, a Melrose Park police officer “unintentionally” fired his gun into the ground while chasing Harper after a shoplifting incident, a city spokesperson said at the time. Harper pleaded guilty in exchange for a sentence of one day.
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