Shortly after noon on December 11, two men rolled up to Gold Coast Exotic Motor Cars, 834 North Rush, in a Maserati and stepped inside the showroom. They weren’t shopping.
Instead, prosecutors said Friday, one of them kept an eye on the door while the other smashed a display case and stole five luxury wristwatches worth $862,500. That’s a lot, but much less than the initial estimated loss of $2 million.
When the dealership’s staff, some of whom were armed as licensed concealed carry holders, chased after the thieves, the offender who grabbed the watches hopped back into the Maserati and drove away, leaving his lookout behind.
And that’s the tiny break CPD’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force needed to crack the case over a month later. Details about how they did it were revealed Friday during a bond hearing for the alleged lookout and in discussions with sources.
After the Maserati sped away with the stolen watches, 38-year-old Carlos Valliant found himself being chased by armed employees of the dealership, prosecutors said.
Detectives painstakingly pieced together a string of public and private surveillance videos that allegedly tracked Valliant from the dealership to Delaware Place, where he lowered his mask and hoodie. More footage tracked Valliant all the way to the Loop, where he eventually borrowed a stranger’s phone to make a couple of calls on the corner of State and Monroe, Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Mahoney said.
Investigators then tracked the stranger back to a nearby business where they made a purchase and used those purchase records to identify the stranger, Mahoney continued. Cops served a search warrant on the stranger’s phone records and identified the two numbers Valliant allegedly called from the corner of State and Monroe after the crime.
Mahoney said one of those numbers is registered to Hammond, Indiana, where local cops immediately recognized Valliant when Chicago detectives sent them photos of the maskless smash-and-grab suspect. Hammond cops have had “extensive prior contact” with Valliant and recognized his walk and face, he said.
Judge Robert Kuzas signed an arrest warrant for Valliant on January 20, and Indiana authorities subsequently arrested him. Valliant waived extradition, and Chicago police took him into custody Thursday.
Mahoney said he admitted to using someone’s phone to call his mom but claimed he didn’t know the guy who walked into the dealership with him. And he admitted to taking off his hoodie on Delaware Place because he was being chased by people with guns, according to Mahoney.
Prosecutors charged him with theft of $500,000 to $1 million and burglary.
Paperwork accompanying the warrant in court files said the watches were stolen from B. Young & Company Exquisite Jewels and Timepieces, a firm operating within the car dealership. According to the criminal complaint, the thieves took a Richard Mille RM 11-03, a Richard Mille RM 11-01, a Patek Phillipe 5712R, a Rolex Skydweller, and a Hublot rose gold all-diamond baguette. Mahoney said one of the Richard Mille watches was worth $450,000 and the other retailed for $240,000. The Rolex was the least valuable of the lot at $55,000.
Valliant has a felony gun case in Indiana scheduled for a jury trial on Valentine’s Day, Mahoney said. He has previous felony convictions for narcotics and burglary.
Judge Barbara Dawkins set his bail at $95,000. He needs to post 10% of that to get out of jail.
A source said the case was cracked by CPD’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force, which was recently formed by the Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan.
Deenihan has directed investigators to work as a group and to look at smash and grabs, retail theft raids, and related incidents as related patterns rather than focusing on individual cases, the source said.
The heist made headlines as Joe Perillo, one of the dealership’s owners, slammed the crime-fighting policies of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in media interviews.
Lightfoot would visit Perillo personally within days, only to call him an “idiot” as she stormed out when the meeting soured, CWBChicago reported last month. A day or two later, a city inspector visited the dealership and unleashed a torrent of violations that the mayor’s office said was in response to an anonymous complaint.