Illinois family charged with shoplifting, selling goods online for millions

(REUTERS) - An Illinois couple and their daughter on Wednesday were charged with operating a multimillion-dollar shoplifting ring that involved stealing toys, baby supplies and household items from retail stores and selling them on eBay, prosecutors said.

Branko Bogdanov, 58, along with his wife Lela, 52, and daughter Julia, 34, of Northbrook, some 40km north of Chicago, were charged in United States (US) District Court with interstate transportation of stolen property, the US Attorney's office said in a statement.

According to investigators, the trio stole items such as American Girl dolls, Furby toys, Lego blocks, baby monitors and steak knives from an array of retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Dillard's and Toys"R"Us during the last decade.

The trio shoplifted US$7.1 million (S$9 million) worth of items from stores in several US states including Florida, Maryland, Tennessee and Oklahoma, according to prosecutors.

Investigators say Lela Bogdanov allegedly stuffed items up a long black skirt that was outfitted with a lining capable of holding multiple objects.

Her husband and daughter would create diversions that would allow her to flee before she could be apprehended by store security or police, prosecutors said.

The family members, with the help from an outside person who acted as a fence, sold the items through merchant accounts on eBay, the online auction site, prosecutors said.

They made some US$4.2 million over the last 10 years, according to prosecutors.

The ring was nabbed after theft prevention staff at the retail chains worked with eBay to determine items that had been stolen.

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