Five months ago, after Emma Murphy was involved in a suburban car crash, Oak Park police allegedly found stolen merchandise in her vehicle.
Those items, including a Moose Knuckle brand headband, allowed Chicago police to crack a burglary ring that may have committed more than 200 break-ins at businesses across the North Side and downtown, including two burglaries in one week at Burberry, 633 North Michigan. During one night of break-ins, the crew dumped a stolen cash register and other goodies outside Gov. JB Pritzker’s mansion in the Gold Coast.
Three weeks after her car crash, prosecutors charged Tacarre Harper, 27, with nine counts of burglary for his alleged role in the crime spree. He was already on bond 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.
In March, prosecutors charged a second man, Dion Butts, 24, with ten of the burglaries.
This week, it was Murphy’s turn.
Oak Park crash
Inside Murphy’s car following the January 17 crash, Oak Park cops allegedly found merchandise that was taken by a burglary team from a FootLocker in the 2700 block of North Narragansett around 1 a.m. the same day. The price tags were still attached, and the clothes were still on their hangers, according to the allegations.
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.
She was arrested in Oak Park by Chicago police, who linked her to a burglary crew that broke into a jewelry store hours before the January 17 crash and a December 8 liquor store burglary in the 3900 block of West Diversey.
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 Tacarre Harper stopped showing up in court for his pending burglary case five days later. That may be because, prosecutors later said, the liquor store’s surveillance video showed him burglarizing the liquor store with Murphy.
This week, prosecutors charged Murphy with participating in burglaries of Burberry and two mom ‘n’ pop convenience stores in Lakeview on January 6. Judge Susana Ortiz required her to pay a $2,500 bail deposit to go home on electronic monitoring. Tacarre Harper and Dion Butts were previously charged with those crimes, too.
Early on January 6, the crew allegedly 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, prosecutor Loukas Kalliantasis said during Harper’s bail hearing in February.
They all fled in a Dodge Durango that, minutes later, pulled up in front of Gov. JB Pritzker’s home in the 1400 block of North Astor. Surveillance video from Pritzker’s neighbor showed four people dumping cash registers, garbage cans, and cash wrappers taken from the night’s earlier break-ins onto the street.
After unloading their trash in front of the governor’s mansion, the crew again pulled Burberry’s door until it broke and escaped with another $80,000 worth of purses, bags, and coats, Kalliantasis said.
Store surveillance videos and phone GPS data played key roles in the investigation, which was spearheaded by CPD’s new organized retail crime task force. The total haul from all of the burglaries—Butts allegedly estimated the crew committed more than 200 of them—exceeds $200,000, according to prosecutors.
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 that he offered for sale. One of the videos, which has since been removed, featured a man who looked very much like Butts.
“I got over 1,000 hats,” he said in one video, posted on November 1.
Prosecutors alleged that other videos show Harper driving around with the crew before the break-ins. In another clip, he lines up bottles of alcohol, which he proceeds to pour on a grave.