When Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx feels pressure about her decision not to pursue felony charges for retail thefts of under $1,000 — even though the legal threshold for the charge is $300 — she pushes back.
“We still prosecute retail theft cases,” Foxx said in 2019. “The difference is they are prosecuted, depending on the amount, as misdemeanors opposed to a felony.”
She has since repeated that claim frequently, saying thefts of over $1,000 are still prosecuted as felonies, particularly when mob-style, organized shoplifting incidents make the news.
So, why are two people whom police allegedly caught with over $2,300 worth of stolen perfume following a shoplifting raid at a South Loop store only charged with misdemeanors? Police reports say Chicago cops tried to get the duo charged with felonies, but Foxx’s office refused.
They made the felony denial as state legislators were debating legislative ideas designed to tamp down on the rising problem of organized retail thefts.
Around 2:45 p.m. on April 4, three people entered Ulta Beauty, 1107 South Delano Court, filled bags with colognes and perfumes, and walked out. The store initially estimated the loss to be $10,000.
But one of the perfume boxes did not contain perfume. It contained a GPS tracker. Cops followed pings from the device to an alley on the 6800 block of South Langley in Woodlawn.
There, they allegedly found Taiwan Shields, 21, and Ayesha Hawkins, 29, sitting in a car with colognes and perfumes in original packaging scattered about the vehicle, according to a CPD report. One box allegedly contained Ulta’s GPS tracker.
Police inventoried 20 bottles of cologne from Gucci, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, and Dior worth at least $2,300, according to CPD inventory records. Shields was carrying $6,051 cash and Hawkins had $639 cash when officers arrested them, police said in a report.
Investigators contacted the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and asked a prosecutor to approve felony charges. They refused, according to police records.
Instead, Hawkins and Shields were each charged with one misdemeanor count of theft not exceeding $500. They were released from the police station on their own recognizance less than three hours after prosecutors declined to pursue felony charges.