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3 Ulta stores in suburban Chicago hit by crew of violent thieves

By Jermont Terry

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    TINLEY PARK, Illinois (WBBM) — A robbery crew has been targeting Ulta beauty stores in the south and southwest suburbs lately.

At least two people were in custody Friday night in connection with the crimes, which were committed in broad daylight. The three stores hit were in Bolingbrook – where Ulta is headquarters – Joliet, and Tinley Park.

Two women who were witnesses spent a good portion of their night Friday night talking with Tinley Park police detectives. They brushed shoulders with the robbery crew just as they entered the store.

But it is what they did during the robbery that likely led to police catching up with part of the crew years later.

It was around 12:30 p.m. Thursday when the busy Ulta Beauty store at 7350 W. 191st St., in Brookline Marketplace off Harlem Avenue, was held up. Two women walking in encountered what seemed to be a man holding the door.

But it turned out the man was no gentleman.

“I just noticed a young man opening the door for me. So I thought, ‘Oh, well thank you,’ I said,'” one of the women said, “and then I walked in to a bunch of banging, and looked over, and there were two people with crowbars.”

Another man and a woman were going to town – clearing every display case in the store.

“And you hear all this smashing of the glass, looked over – it’s like, uh oh!” the other woman said. “Then it clicked what was going on.”

The women were witnessing a violent smash-and-grab right in front of them. The young man who held the door open for them was part of the robbery crew.

“Once the two got out, he let go of the door,” the second woman said. “They literally had a car parked right there in front.”

But before the trio jumped into the waiting car, one robber decided to throw a punch at the two women.

“One of the females that was coming out the door literally pushed her – like almost punched her in the back,” the second woman said.

“I wasn’t in the way,” the first woman said. “She had to go out of her way to hit me.

“They all jumped in the car,” the second woman continued. “They had big old bags of stuff.”

Less than two hours later, Bolingbrook police were called to an Ulta store on Boughton Road. A crew smashed counters for the goods there too.

There was another Ulta store in Joliet also targeted. That made three stores in a matter of hours.

“They were experts,” the second woman said. “They knew what they were doing.”

But what the burglars didn’t know was that the two women who witnessed the Tinley Park robbery managed to get a picture of the license plate of the blue Chevrolet the burglars used as a getaway car.

Late Thursday night, police pulled over that car, and arrested two people. They found a gun and stolen Ulta products in the back seat.

The two witnesses decided not to show their faces due to their roles in helping catch the suspects. But they are glad they snapped the picture.

“You see something, you got to say something,” the second woman said. “You got to start, you know, saving our businesses, saving our livelihoods, saving our jobs.”

Late Friday, the police departments in Joliet, Bolingbrook, and Tinley Park were all working very closely with the Will County State’s Attorney’s office to collect evidence and to get charges that will stick.

It is believed that the two people arrested are part of a much larger crime ring that sells stolen beauty products online for large sums of money. Similar scenarios have played out around the country.

Charges against the two people arrested were pending Friday night.

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