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Mom, dad, daughter accused in $7M shoplift spree

Family Used Special Skirt During Nationwide Shoplifting Spree

CHICAGO (AP) - A father, mother and daughter from a posh Chicago suburb stole $7 million in merchandise during a decadelong shoplifting spree - traveling to stores nationwide and targeting dolls, toys, cosmetics and other valuables - according to a federal complaint released Wednesday.

The three were arrested earlier this week at their $1.3 million Northbrook home after returning from a three-day trip through Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana, where authorities say they shoplifted from stores. Working in tandem, the family traveled from their Chicago-area residence to hit businesses in multiple states, including Maryland, Tennessee and Florida, according to the 20-page complaint.

Branko Bogdanov, 58, Lela Bogdanov, 52, and their 34-year-old daughter, Julia Bogdanov, are charged with one count each of interstate transportation of stolen property. They made initial appearances Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, but did not enter pleas; they'll be held at least until a detention hearing next week. Someone who answered a phone at their Northbrook residence declined any comment

Lela Bogdanov frequently donned a long black skirt with large compartments sewn on the inside during the alleged shoplifting binges and was caught on surveillance cameras leaving some stores with her skirt looking notably fuller than when she entered, the complaint says.

Standing in orange jail clothes Wednesday in federal court, Lela Bogdanov wiped away tears as U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Mason explained her rights. She followed the proceedings through a Romani interpreter.

An unnamed cooperating witness bought many of the stolen items - which included everything from American Girl dolls and Furby robotic toys to coffee and steak knives - at the Bogdanov home, then sold them online through eBay, the complaint says. On their own, Bogdanovs directly sold more than $690,000 in merchandise through eBay, the complaint says.

The United States Secret Service led the investigation after Barnes and Noble Inc. and Toys R Us Inc. contacted the agency about what the complaint describes as "a huge loss in merchandise." With the help of those companies and eBay, authorities traced stolen items to an the online trading account of the cooperating witnesses, who, in turn, agreed to help in the investigation of the Bogdanovs.

Speaking to reporters later Wednesday, the head of the Secret Service office in Chicago, Frank P. Benedetto, said large-scale shoplifting ultimately hurts both stores and their consumers.

"If this type of crime continues unchecked, the costs ... will be passed from the retailer to the common shopper," he said.

A conviction on the one count of interstate transportation of stolen property carries sentence of up to 10 years.


Follow Michael Tarm at www.twitter.com/mtarm.

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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Beverly Doyle March 05 2014 at 8:10 PM

And how on earth did they manage to afford their $1.3M home, I wonder.

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badbartsherman March 05 2014 at 8:29 PM

send them to that snake that eat that croc.

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JIM March 05 2014 at 8:32 PM

Chicago again?

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Susan March 05 2014 at 8:28 PM

For $690,000 or so dollars they made from the selling of these stolen items seems like a slap of the wrist since 10 years really means 5 if you are good while in jail and be constructive while you are there might even get more time off of the jail time. They must have had good jobs or money to afford such an expensive house so it is likely they got caught up in the "I can do this shoplifting and not get caught so lets keep doing it we are good at this". Might be the thrill of being able to do it and not get caught this I have heard about. Still the stores are out of the merchandise.

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3 replies
srslocum March 05 2014 at 8:33 PM

Scumbags that should be put away for a long time. No sympathy whatsoever!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Madeleine March 05 2014 at 8:18 PM

Gypsies, i.e. romans, feel no compunction to follow any but their own codes of conduct. They got away with it for ten years and now she is crying? Won't work.

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rudimario March 05 2014 at 8:32 PM

Is America great or what!!!!!! Here's to hoping they get put away for a very long time. My dealings with the Roma......do not let them out on bail.....they will vanish like smoke in the breeze and will never be found again.

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buglebob March 05 2014 at 8:14 PM

Romanis are what we usually call "Gypsys" They have no home and they raise astonishing amounts of money by stealing - begging - cheating - anything but working honestly. They do the same things all over Europe and now the USA. The FBI and local police need only to closely monitor the known Romani families and the associated Irish Travelers etc to solve many crimes like this one.

They travel everywhere and steal - run small construction scams and take $ by any means possible. At times they are charming but - watch out, they are after only one thing - access to your money.

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2 replies
lorepod buglebob March 05 2014 at 8:22 PM

You are absolutely correct. Several years ago, there was a documentary about them on one of the national networks. It showed everything you described.

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2 replies
icolec2 lorepod March 05 2014 at 8:27 PM

Yes, I saw that one too. I'm glad some of them are finally getting caught and jailed.

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KB lorepod March 05 2014 at 8:40 PM

I learned everything I needed to know about Gypsys from the movie Snatch!!!!!!!!!

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bdgrizcp buglebob March 05 2014 at 10:43 PM

You pretty much covered every cliche regarding the Romani people. Many of which are no longer true. They were called gypsies because they were once thought to have come from Egypt. Actually, their origins are northwestern India. The US has the largest population of Romani outside of eastern Europe.

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1 reply
nyhuguenot bdgrizcp March 06 2014 at 12:17 AM

The UK is loaded with them living in camps of buses and wagons.

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ralleg1003 March 05 2014 at 8:14 PM

Hang the Bastards or give them the Electric Chair. I wanna be the one who pulls the switch and watch them fry. Burn Baby Burn.

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1 reply
Judi Klein ralleg1003 March 05 2014 at 8:19 PM

they are only doing what Obama and his henchmen do on a daily basis with stupid voters approval

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2 replies
ablueyddommaine Judi Klein March 05 2014 at 8:28 PM

And the reublicans make 6 digit paychecks for working a 4 month year, Whos stealing from whom?
Quit whining you obviously voted for the republicans that are screwing poor and middle class americans

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fentex5 Judi Klein March 05 2014 at 8:36 PM

You are obviously one of two types of people. You're either wealthy from nothing that you did to earn the money that "keeps" you or you're too stupid to know that the fear and hate from the wrong wing has roped you in to voe for people who don't give a damn about you---just your vote.

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bobluedke3 March 05 2014 at 8:29 PM


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