Shoplifting by ‘foreign nationals’ soars in River North: One has been arrested 4 times under 3 names.

CHICAGO — The number of foreign nationals arrested for shoplifting in River North soared as migrants flooded the city last year, with three foreigners detained for retail theft every day in December, according to the Cook County sheriff’s office. The agency estimated 62 foreigners were arrested for shoplifting in January, up from six during the same month last year.

December’s shoplifting cases involved attempts to steal merchandise worth $40,134, the sheriff’s office said. That’s about $436 per arrest.

Sheriff’s officials released the information this week as they announced the arrests of three men who allegedly ran a fake ID mill, an investigation that began after police learned that people were hiring the migrants to shoplift certain products in exchange for fraudulent IDs.

The sheriff’s office did not identify the alleged shoplifters’ countries of origin, but Chicago police records show Venezuelans dominating retail theft arrests in the area and in the Loop.

Among the foreigners accused of shoplifting in River North during December is a Venezuelan man who has been arrested four times under three names since December 3: Luis Canes-Padilla. Or maybe it’s Ronald Brito-Padilla. Or possibly Jose Gonzalez.

A Venezuelan migrant identified as, from left, Luis Alberto Canes-Padilla, Jose Gonzalez, and Ronald Luis Brito-Padilla has been arrested for shoplifting four times since December 3. (Chicago Police Department)

He was first arrested on December 3 at Nordstrom Rack, 101 East Chicago, under the name Luis Alberto Canes-Padilla, according to a Chicago police arrest report.

The store’s employees told cops he put two pairs of Nike gym shoes into a bag, grabbed a piece of luggage from the sales floor, and headed out the door. According to court records, prosecutors dropped the case when Nordstrom failed to send a representative to court on December 22.

Three days before the case was dropped, he got arrested at another Nordstrom Rack under the name Ronald Luis Brito-Padilla.

In that case, employees at the company’s 1551 North Sheffield location told police he tried to shoplift seven pairs of shoes and a piece of luggage worth $531. Judge Donald Panarese sentenced him to 10 hours of community service on January 2.

Three days after his first arrest, on December 6, he was arrested at Macy’s on State Street under the name Ronald Brito-Padilla. Details about what he is accused of taking are not listed in court records. The case is still pending.

He got arrested again last Monday, January 29, under the name Jose Gonzalez at Target, 1101 West Jackson, in the West Loop. The store’s loss prevention officer told police he took several pieces of electronics from the shelves, placed them in a piece of luggage, and headed for the door with the merchandise. Officials say it was worth $507.

Canes-Padilla, or whatever his name is, has three different home addresses listed in court records: the Standard Club shelter in the Loop, the newer shelter across from the Salt Shed, and 310 South State, which is the address of Pritzker Park.

As of November 12, the number of Venezuelan-born people arrested by Chicago police in 2023 was up 2,538% compared to 2022.

A sheriff’s office graphic showing the number of foreign nationals arrested for shoplifting in River North over the past year and the value of the merchandise they allegedly stole. (Cook County sheriff’s office)

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About Tim Hecke 214 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com