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Tacarre Harper, Alleged Leader Of Smash-And-Grab Burglars That Targeted Stores On Mag Mile And Around City, Arrested And Charged

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The accused ringleader of a group that pulled off nine "smash and grab" burglaries on Michigan Avenue and the elsewhere around the city, is under arrest.

As CBS 2's Suzanne Le Mignot reported Tuesday afternoon, Tacarre Harper, 24, of Maywood, was charged Tuesday with nine felony counts of burglary, according to the Cook County State's Attorney's office.

Harper was taken down Monday evening at a house in the 600 block of North LeClaire Avenue in the South Austin neighborhood by the elite Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force.

A source tells the CBS 2 Investigators that Harper may have overseen 100 smash-and-grab burglaries - and we are told that number may be conservative.

Tacarre Harper, 27
Tacarre Harper, 27 (Credit: Chicago Police)

Prosecutors say he not only admitted to the most recent crimes with which he has been charged, but also pointed himself out in still photos taken from store surveillance video.

His two biggest heists -- totaling $150,000 -- came from two burglaries at the Michigan Avenue Burberry store on Jan. 4 and Jan. 6, prosecutors said.

On Jan. 4, Harper - along with two other people - pulled on the door of the luxury retailer's Magnificent Mile location until the front door popped open, prosecutors said. They stole shoes and purses from the display, totaling $70,000.

On Jan. 6, Harper returned to Burberry, opening the front door the same way - pulling on it until it popped open, prosecutors said. On that occasion, Harper came with two to three other people and grabbed purses, handbags, and coats totaling $80,000, prosecutors said.

In addition to the Mag Mile Burberry store thefts, Harper is accused in numerous other retail thefts that targeted game and liquor stores in various parts of the city – including East Lakeview, Logan Square, Wicker Park, Belmont Cragin, Belnont Central, and North Austin. Besides the Mag Mile thefts, the other thefts in which Harper is charged happened at the following locations and dates:

• Nov. 26, 2021, in the 6100 block of West Diversey Avenue;
• Nov. 26, 2021, in the 1500 block of North Cicero Avenue;
• Nov. 26, 2021, in the 2000 block of West Division Street;
• Nov. 26, 2021, in the 3900 block of West Diversey Avenue;
• Dec. 28, 2021, in the 4900 block of West Fullerton Avenue;
• Jan. 6, 2022, in the 2900 block of North Broadway;
• Jan. 2, 2022, in the 400 block of West Belmont Avenue.

A search warrant for Harper's phone showed images of the stolen merchandise. Prosecutors say Harper even posted videos of himself along with co-defendants on Facebook.

Prosecutors also said Harper not only wore very distinctive clothing during the crimes - a Hood Rich sweatshirt during some of the burglaries and a Mickey Mouse T-shirt in others.

Harper has a criminal record dating back to 2013. He has been charged in the past with domestic violence, identity theft, and retail theft, and there were already four arrest warrants out for him when he was picked up.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, police Supt. David Brown said the collaboration between Chicago Police officers from the Organized Retail Theft Crime Task Force, the Cook County State's Attorney's office, and other law enforcement partners is to credit for the arrests and charges in the case.

"They followed every lead, and utilized every tool at our disposal – including technology resources and POD video cameras to track these offenders," Brown said.

Police are also working closely with the business community to prevent crime, Brown said.

"It's quite satisfying that we are working these cases from the jump, and we are putting together the pieces of technology, video, and license plate readers," Brown said.

"Some people mistakenly think these are victimless crimes, but these crimes have real victims – the employees and customers physically present in stores during crimes who are put in harm's way," added Kimberly Bares, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Magnificent Mile Association.

A judge on Tuesday Harper's bond at $200,000 - saying the amount equals the total value of all of the merchandise Harper and his crew stole in the last two months.

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