CHICAGO —Police are working to reunite victims with an estimated $1 million worth of stolen high-end construction equipment and tools seized from a massive fencing ring.
There is some very pricey equipment among the generators, snow blowers and power tools. Police are cutting some of the red tape, in the hopes victims will come forward to claim their stolen things.
Georgios Porfipoulos was among the hopeful checking the wares as he searched for a welding generator taken several weeks ago while he was working a job near Pulaski and Roosevelt.
“We were working, left the truck for 15 minutes outside an was gone,” Porfipoulos said. “It was locked with a chain and the lock. It was like 300 pounds.”
Forty-five-year-old Norma Argueta of Maywood was arrested and charged with felony theft after police recovered more than 400 pieces of commercial-grade equipment and tools worth at least $1 million dollars.
Investigators say the fencing ring was run by their Maywood family for years, and detectives believe it’s one of the largest in the Midwest, reaching well beyond Chicagoland. The items stolen from construction sites and homes were sold on the black market, oftentimes at flea markets.
CPD Detective Frank Ramaglia said after doing surveillance on the Maywood family running the ring, they moved in with search warrants.
"We did two storage units all together. We did one house. One garage and 4 vehicles. A total of 17 search warrants at 10 different locations,” Ramaglia said.
Police are still trying to catch up to other family members.
If you believe some of your stuff might be amid the piles, Chicago police encourage you to stop by the 10th or 25th District Police Stations, Monday-Wednesday from 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
"...if they talk to the officers and explain, 'Look, I can describe my equipment in detail,' we’ll work with them. Obviously we want to give the equipment back to its rightful owners,” Sgt. Ramaglia said.
Another walk-through with stolen equipment is planned for the coming weeks.