A woman who reportedly stole $2,000 in merchandise from Sephora inside J.C. Penney at North Riverside Park Mall, 7501 Cermak Road, led police on a wild high-speed chase through Berwyn and Cicero driving a stolen mall security vehicle before ditching the car in a Cicero alley on the night of April 12.
As of April 13 police had not made an arrest, but investigators were actively processing evidence collected inside the vehicle, collecting security camera video and interviewing witnesses.
Police initially were dispatched to the mall at about 7:35 p.m. after North Riverside Park Mall security reported a retail theft in progress, with a suspect running toward Entrance 2 on the mall’s east side.
A 59-year-old mall security officer who pulled up to Entrance 2 in a 2020 Jeep marked as a mall security vehicle, told police he saw the alleged offender fighting with a 23-year-old woman, who was a J.C. Penney loss prevention agent.
The mall security officer got out of his vehicle and approached the offender, who allegedly struck him in the chest with her purse and then ran toward the Jeep, entering the unlocked driver’s side door.
According to the police report, the mall security officer then entered the vehicle and tried to pull the offender out, but she struck him in the face five or six times before accelerating and driving away with the mall security officer holding onto the steering wheel.
As the security officer fell out of the vehicle, he was dragged along the pavement and he sustained multiple lacerations to his face, hands and knees. Paramedics took the mall security officer to the hospital for treatment and X-rays.
The J.C. Penney loss prevention agent told police she observed the offender conceal 41 Sephora items worth $2,048 into a black bag and walk out of the store without paying. She ran after the offender, who stopped in the middle of the mall parking lot and began swinging the black bag at her, striking her multiple times until the mall security officer arrived.
The offender drove the stolen Jeep eastbound on 26th Street into Berwyn, at one point colliding with a North Riverside squad car and then driving off the roadway in the 2600 block of Home Avenue onto the grass to drive around another North Riverside squad car approaching from the opposite direction.
According to the police officer involved in the collision, he said he observed the offender getting out of the Jeep in an alley between the 2700 blocks of Clinton and Home. However, when she saw his approaching squad car, she re-entered the Jeep and drove around his squad, striking the bumper.
Police later located four stolen eyelash packages from the alley where the offender was seen exiting the Jeep.
At Cermak Road, the offender sped east into Cicero where police lost sight of the Jeep. Cicero police reported finding the stolen Jeep at about 8:50 p.m., unoccupied and running, in the alley behind the Morton High School administrative office building at 5801 Cermak Road.
A witness there told police that the alleged offender entered his work van and asked to use his cellphone. The witness reportedly told the woman she needed to leave and she was last seen walking across 58th Avenue and into a store.