Two charged in suspected theft ring

Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 1:22 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, April 15, 2013 6:04 p.m. CDT

LA GRANGE PARK – Two people were charged with felony crimes for their roles in a theft ring that is suspected in 10 thefts over the past six months in La Grange Park.

Alphera Sullivan, 56, of Rockford, and Keith Pierce, 47, of Chicago, were arrested April 4 in Hillside after leaving a Target store at 130 S. Mannheim Road. A cashier called police after noticing a suspicious check that was offered as payment. Police had Sullivan and Pierce under surveillance and were already waiting in the parking lot, where they were arrested and then held at the La Grange Park Police Department along with a third person, who was later released.

Sullivan and Pierce are suspected to be part of a group that has been targeting victims at restaurants and grocery stores throughout the Chicagoland area and as far away as St. Louis, Mo. 

The group has been stealing unattended purses and wallets of customers and using credit cards and stolen checks to make purchases, usually within a few hours of the theft. Often, the victims were unaware that items had been taken until notified by the bank or credit card company. Gift cards and household items were the most common purchases made. Police estimate as much as $150,000 in various items and gift cards were stolen during the past several weeks.   

Sullivan, who is already on parole, was charged with continuing a financial enterprise, a class 1 felony, carrying a possible maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. She also was charged with money laundering, a class 2 felony, which carries a potential sentence of an additional seven years in prison.  Sullivan’s charges were for crimes committed in Rockford, West Dundee, South Barrington and Westchester. 

Pierce was charged with identity theft stemming from a crime committed in Hoffman Estates. If convicted of the class 2 felony, he faces up to seven years imprisonment. 

A task force of investigators from several communities, including La Grange Park, La Grange, Westchester, South Barrington, Hoffman Estates and others has been sharing information and exchanging reports on several common thefts over the past several weeks.

Sullivan and Pierce are scheduled to appear in Cook County Circuit Court on April 13.  Their bond has been set at $250,000.  

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