River Forest police bust Red Bull theft ring

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By Ben Meyerson

Chicago Journal Editor

River Forest police have busted a man who allegedly stole $280 worth of energy drinks from Jewel in October, but abandoned his haul in the parking lot.

Eli Lupancu of Burr Ridge, 19, was arrested by River Forest police outside his home on Dec. 15 and charged with retail theft.

Lupancu had been stealing Red Bull and Monster energy drinks and reselling them to mom-and-pop grocery stores in the southwest suburbs for slightly less than the wholesale price, according to River Forest Police Detective Sgt. Marty Grill.

Lupancu and two other men stole $280 worth of energy drinks from the River Forest Jewel at 7525 Lake St. on Oct. 28, according to the original police report, but when a manager followed them into the parking lot, they abandoned their haul and drove away.

River Forest police found Lupancu when Elmhurst police sent out a bulletin recently announcing Lupancu’s arrest there. They matched up Elmhurst’s mugshots of Lupancu and two of his cohorts with Jewel’s security tapes and tracked Lupancu down.

Police are still looking for two other suspects, Maurice Maiah, 19, of Burbank, and Amjad Nassar, 22, of Palos Hills, according to a press release issued today by River Forest police.

They were part of a group of five to seven men who were targeting grocery stores throughout Cook and DuPage counties and stealing energy drinks and liquor, which they would then turn around and resell to smaller local grocery stores, Grill said.

“It’s something that we’re starting to see across the region, where people are coming in and stealing in bulk,” Grill said. “It’s an age-old trick from a drug addict: sell the stuff to a local shop down the street from where you buy your heroin.”

Lupancu and his colleagues weren’t doing this for drug money though, Grill said — this appeared just to be a way to line their pockets.

“It’s a newer concept for those who want to profit purely financially,” he said. “We know there’s a market out there for bars and liquor stores who want to stock their shelves at a lower price.”

Grill said the department is following up on some of the shops that might have bought the stolen energy drinks.

“Our investigation indicates that the people who were buying these goods were very aware that they weren’t buying them through normal channels,” Grill said. “All the transactions were done by cash, and there’s no receipts.”

Grill said that Lupancu is being charged with retail theft even though he abandoned his haul in the Jewel parking lot.

The definition of retail theft is taking goods past the last point of purchase without paying for them. In this case, police said, the crew made it all the way outside to the parking lot before ditching the energy drinks.

Reader Comments

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Violet Aura  

Posted: December 27th, 2010 6:16 PM

Lupancu and his colleagues weren't doing this for drug money though, Grill said %u2014 this appeared just to be a way to line their pockets. (That was the quote I tried to paste in here)

Violet Aura  

Posted: December 27th, 2010 6:15 PM

@OPRF: The reason I brought up the issue of the drugs was this quote in the article: Anon doesn't get it but my point is that there are tons of stores to rob from that are closer to Burr Ridge. Why do people rob? One reason is to buy drugs. And many arrests have been made in the Austin/OPRF area for possession, using, and ODs. This is THE spot!

Violet Aura  

Posted: December 27th, 2010 6:11 PM

@Anon: Sweetie, in case you didn't know this, RF has rental units. And yes, I do live here and yes, I grew up in OP and am far from "trash," am a person of mixed heritage so you can stuff your racist allegations. You are just pissed because I questioned why the Journal was describing the color of a gun handle yet totally skipped over the description of the perp (still on the loose). I'm done with you. Have a nice life. Oh, and OPRF was our high school and Forest Park is not included. LOL!

OPRF Drugs  

Posted: December 27th, 2010 11:45 AM

It was most certainly liked to drugs - whether he was taking/using or not. Talked to the authorities. No need to talk bad of each other, the drug problem is an epidemic. Racism or not, we all need to solve this drug issue.

Anon  

Posted: December 27th, 2010 11:21 AM

Violet: You claim to live in the "OPRF area", sorry, but Forest Park, Melrose Park, and Elmwood Park don't count. You admitted in a comment on another story that you don't live in Oak Park, and I doubt trash like you reside in River Forest. Still you come to OakPark.com to spew your filthy racism constantly and criticize Oak Park (a community you don't belong to). Yes, you're a racist and it's obvious as I'm not the first (nor will I be the last) person to call you out on it. You need therapy.

Violet Aura  

Posted: December 26th, 2010 3:08 PM

@Anon: I LIVE in the OPRF area, Cupcake! And it's a fact that young White people are coming here to score. You can't figure out that if someone OD's in RF and they are from Batavia, that they came all the way here to score? DUH! I mention their being White because the story makes it seem like they just happened to steal over here and sell the Red Bulls, without any connection to drugs. I say that the ultimate goal was most likely to get the money to then score. Got it, Sparky? Buh bye! ((waves))

Anon  

Posted: December 23rd, 2010 7:30 PM

It figures sarcasm would be lost on you, they say that's the first thing to go...Anyway, your premise of the criminals coming all this way is deeply flawed as I've explained before. But if you *must* insist they came to River Forest to score some "heavy intoxicants", go right ahead. I wonder why you, someone who's admitted to not even living in the "OPRF/Austin area", continues to bother with stories pertaining to said mythical area. In need of a life much? Until next time, Happy Festivus!

Violet Aura  

Posted: December 23rd, 2010 1:06 PM

@Anon: Did you even bother to actually read my comments or are you so reactive to my name that you respond prematurely. "Heavy intoxicants" are crack and heroin (I mention the latter in my statement). My point is that there are a million places to steal Red Bull without having to drive that far from Burr Ridge but I see coming here very convenient because after they sell the loot, they can go shopping for some heroin afterwards! Woot! And OPRF?Austin area refers to the general vicinity. Wow...

Anon  

Posted: December 22nd, 2010 7:46 PM

Secondly, why did you conveniently skip over the part where Lupancu was arrested in Elmhurst? Or the fact that he and the ring of thieves have hit other stores in Cook and DuPage county? Your insinuation that they came to the "OPRF/Austin area" to be corrupted by our supply of "heavy intoxicants" (Red Bull isn't that strong, really) is a load of bs. Nice try though.

Anon  

Posted: December 22nd, 2010 7:45 PM

Oh Violet Aura, leave it to you to bring a racial element into this. So predictable. Per usual, I'll take the pleasure in calling you out on it. "White kids from the boondocks and other counties coming to OPRF/Austin area for heavy intoxicants" you say? Really Violet? First the "OPRF/Austin area" doesn't exist but in your small mind. (continued)

Paddy Boy from Oak Park  

Posted: December 20th, 2010 2:02 PM

I don't get it. If he had just drank a few cans he probably would have had enough energy to outrun the cops.

Violet Aura  

Posted: December 17th, 2010 1:47 PM

If they didn't come to the OPRF area to score some heroin, why did they travel so far? It just seems a bit odd that someone from Burr Ridge is going to go to the trouble of coming to this area simply to rip off a truck when there are stores everywhere. And how would the police know their true motives? It's not like they are going to admit it! This is happening regularly--White kids from the boondocks and other counties coming to OPRF/Austin area for heavy intoxicants.

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