Mom, dad, daughter accused of shoplifting $7M in spree

CHICAGO (AP) — A father, mother and daughter from a posh Chicago suburb stole $7 million in merchandise during a decadelong shoplifting spree — traveling to stores nationwide and targeting dolls, toys, cosmetics and other valuables — according to a federal complaint released Wednesday.

The three were arrested earlier this week at their $1.3 million Northbrook home after returning from a three-day trip through Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana, where authorities say they shoplifted from stores. Working in tandem, the family traveled from their Chicago-area residence to hit businesses in multiple states, including Maryland, Tennessee and Florida, according to the 20-page complaint.

Branko Bogdanov, 58, Lela Bogdanov, 52, and their 34-year-old daughter, Julia Bogdanov, are charged with one count each of interstate transportation of stolen property. They made initial appearances Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, but did not enter pleas.

Lela Bogdanov frequently donned a long black skirt with large compartments sewn on the inside during the alleged shoplifting binges and was caught on surveillance cameras leaving some stores with her skirt looking notably fuller than when she entered, the complaint says.

A cooperating witness bought many of the stolen items — which included everything from American Girl dolls and Furby robotic toys to coffee and steak knives — at the Bogdanov home, then sold them online through eBay. On their own, Bogdanovs directly sold more than $690,000 in merchandise through eBay.

The U.S. Secret Service led the investigation after Barnes and Noble Inc. and Toys R Us Inc. contacted the agency. With the help of those companies and eBay, authorities traced stolen items to an the online account of the cooperating witnesses, who, in turn, agreed to help.

in the investigation of the Bogdanovs.

Speaking to reporters later Wednesday, the head of the Secret Service office in Chicago, Frank P. Benedetto, said large-scale shoplifting ultimately hurts both stores and their consumers.

“If this type of crime continues unchecked, the costs … will be passed from the retailer to the common shopper,” he said.

A conviction on the one count of interstate transportation of stolen property carries sentence of up to 10 years.

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