On Thursday, March 31, 2022 Barrington resident Artur Gilowski, 48, was convicted at trial after he was accused of running a multi-million-dollar retail crime ring. Gilowski was found guilty of charges of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. The convictions are the culmination of an approximately five-year effort undertaken by the Arlington Heights Police Department, Special Agents from the Department of Homeland Security (HSI), the Downers Grove Police Department, and Special Agents from the United States Postal Inspection Service.
“Organized retail crime leads to consumers having to pay higher prices for goods, fewer job openings, and a decrease in consumer spending on legitimate goods that small-business owners and other retailers depend on for survival. Working alongside the U. S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Arlington Heights (Illinois) Police Department, we were able to secure today’s conviction, and take another step in our ongoing fight against organized retail crime so consumers and retailers don’t have to bear the brunt of those impacts.”
— Special Agent in Charge Christopher Miller, HSI Dallas
Regarding the five-year effort in the retail crime case, the case began in December of 2015 when the Arlington Heights Police Department received a report of a residential burglary. A witness to the crime captured the license plate of the burglary suspect’s vehicle, which police determined to have been registered under a fictitious name and with an address of a car dealership in Chicago. Lacking viable leads for the investigation of the residential burglary, Arlington Heights Police Department Detectives chose to target the dealership responsible for providing the fictitious registration. Through an undercover operation, the owner of the dealership was arrested in 2016 and charged with numerous felonies. An analysis of the dealer’s financial records revealed numerous check payments issued from businesses in the Chicagoland area and Coppell, Texas, and later determined the dealership was operating as a fence of stolen property.
Fence — an individual or organization that knowingly buys stolen items in order to later resell them for profit. The fence acts as an intermediary between thieves and the eventual buyers, who may or may not know that the items they purchased are stolen.
Further investigation revealed that a network of individuals responsible for organized retail crimes and residential burglaries was supplying the fence operation with stolen property. The group was determined to have been traveling the country, stealing small products such as printer ink cartridges, light switches, pet products and small electronic devices. The suspects were stealing locally in Arlington Heights and the surrounding area. The group utilized “booster skirts” (garments with concealment pouches for stolen goods) and electronic jamming devices designed to disrupt retailers’ anti-theft and loss-prevention measures to complete thefts. Once the products were stolen, they were mailed to a network of storage lockers in the Chicagoland area established and rented with fictitious information. Detectives conducted surveillance of members of the group as they departed on these theft trips traveling to states from California to Florida. Detectives also intercepted the mailed packages and inspected the stolen items contained within the packages.
The storage lockers served as a temporary repository for the packages of stolen items which were picked up by Mr. Gilowski and another co-conspirator before being transported to storefronts in Chicago and Franklin Park. At these storefronts the co-conspirators removed security tags and retailer stickers from the products before posting the items for sale through numerous different profiles on e-commerce websites Amazon and eBay. Bulk shipments of stolen goods were also shipped to another fence of stolen property operating in Coppell, Texas where the case was ultimately charged.
Gilowski and his co-conspirators created a network of online seller profiles, multiple bank accounts and various companies to conduct the unlawful sales scheme. In total the group was responsible for completing the sale of hundreds of thousands of stolen products for over 20 million dollars. The evidence also showed that Mr. Gilowski received over a million dollars in cash from co-conspirators –- including over $97,000 in cash that was found in the center console of Mr. Gilowski’s truck at the time of his arrest – which led one of Mr. Gilowski’s coconspirators to testify at trial that Mr. Gilowski “treated money like trash.”
The Arlington Heights Police Department in Illinois conducted the investigation with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations’ Dallas Field Office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Fabio Leonardi and Camille Sparks prosecuted the case. Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn presided over the trial.
In September of 2019, twenty-six co-conspirators were indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property. Mr. Gilowski was subsequently indicted on an additional charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
Seven of Mr. Gilowski’s coconspirators pleaded guilty prior to trial. Mr. Gilowski now faces up to 25 years in federal prison. He is set for sentencing on August 2, 2022.
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