7 Arrested After Driving Van Into Chanel Store: Highland Park Police

Police said they arrested seven people, including two juveniles, suspected of driving a van into the Chanel Boutique in Highland Park and stealing merchandise Monday morning. [[365640121,C]]

Highland Park police said someone drove the van through a large display window at the store in the 100 block of Highland Park Village, facing Preston Road, just before 6:30 a.m.

Several people went inside the store and stole merchandise, according to police spokesman Lance Koppa. Most of the items stolen were handbags.

"Clearly, this was a well-thought out crime," Koppa said.

Koppa said officers responded and, with the help of several nearby homeowners who called 911, were able to apprehend six people in two vehicles. Some of the purses were found dumped on the 4400 block of Mockingbird Parkway, police said.

A seventh person was arrested about three hours after the other six people, police said, when officers responded to a suspicious person call near Normandy Avenue and Preston Road.

Five of the people arrested have been identified as: Lamario Lamate Peel, Charles Brown, Antonio Maurice Cobb Jr., Jake Tesean Adams and Jesse Foster. Their ages were not immediately available.

Contractor Ishmael Ali spotted one of the suspects hiding out in a construction hole at a house.

Ali said when he confronted the man, the stranger claimed he was homeless and asked to use a phone. Then he walked away.

"He just walked this way. He had all-black clothes and long hair, and he went all the way to the curb and then he was gone," Ali said. "That's when I told the police."

Police said the suspects will be charged with first-degree theft of property and felony criminal mischief. If convicted, the theft charge could carry a punishment of up to five years or life imprisonment.

Investigators and store officials are working to determine the total amount of merchandise stolen, but they said at least 45 handbags and one pair of women's shoes were taken. Each handbag is valued at more than $2,000, with the most expensive valued at $15,000.

The shoes are valued at $1,400.

Alberto Lombardi owns upscale restaurant Bistro-31, just a few doors down from Chanel.

He stopped by Monday to take a look at the damage and remark about the boldness of the crime.

"This is very unusual. Highland Park is the safest place you can be. Police are always around. It's almost unbelievable they would try this," he said. "This is Highland Park. There is no way to escape."

NBC 5's Jeff Smith contributed to this report.

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