Suspects arrested after chase may be part of Midwest theft ring

Eight people arrested after a police pursuit sped through the metro-east could be part of a larger theft ring, police say.

According to an Illinois State Police statement, seven men and a woman, all from Chicago, were arrested around 11:10 a.m. Saturday on I-55 near Farmersville after the vehicle they were in became disabled following a chase that began in Maryville. The agency said the suspects are believed to be part of a theft ring operating in four states that’s responsible for $1.9 million in stolen goods and damages.

These eight were taken into custody shortly after police say they fled from the disabled vehicle: Terrence J. Bell, 25; Darius O. Bowdry, 21; Julian C. Campbell, 22; Derrick Crowder, 24; Jacob A. Lee, 27; Keyshyla S. Thomas, 22; Mario Washington, 24 and Dejuan D. Winguard, 21.

They all are charged with theft.

Frontenac, Mo. police responded Saturday morning to the Plaza Frontenac shopping center after 911 callers reported a theft at the Saks Fifth Avenue store there. The callers said two vehicles were driving away from the store following the theft and that people were firing guns from the vehicles.

Around 10:30 a.m., a Maryville officer spotted one of the vehicles involved in the theft headed north on I-55. The officer initiated a traffic stop but the vehicle sped onward, beginning a chase that involved multiple police departments.

The vehicle struck spike strips near Mount Olive but continued northbound. After exiting the interstate and driving briefly through Litchfield, the vehicle got back on the interstate headed north. Officers chasing the vehicle reported its speed at one point reached 110 miles per hour.

The vehicle finally became disabled around 11:10 a.m. in the highway median near Farmersville. All the people inside tried to run off but they were quickly captured.

Other suspects involved in the incident remain at large, police said.

According to the statement, police think the suspects are part of a larger theft ring that has targeted high-end retail stores in Missouri, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. Up to $1.9 million in losses and damages are attributed to the ring, police said.