Police Chief Nicholas Gailius said the suspect was caught stealing from the Dillard’s at St. Clair Square Tuesday night. He said grab and run thieves grab as much merchandise as they can and then run out the door.
“This was not your run of the mill theft,” Gailius said.
He said the suspect is believed to be connected to at least eight other grab and run thefts in Fairview Heights and is accused of taking more than $25,000 in merchandise. The suspect’s identity will not be released until criminal charges are filed.
The theft came just hours after Fairview Heights Police posted a warning on Facebook that they would have an undercover detail at the mall. A getaway driver took off and is not yet in custody.
“I guess I’m disappointed because (the thieves) don’t follow us on Facebook,” Gailius said.
Grab and run thefts have been on the rise lately, according to the chief. He said his department decided to assign an undercover detail to the mall to address the problem.
“The first night we were out there, our two undercover officers grabbed two women who were in the process of committing a grab and run theft from the J.C. Penney,” he said.
Gailius said his department also maintains a visible presence with marked police cars at the mall and just wants any would-be criminals to know they should think twice before making St. Clair Mall a target.
“You don’t know if that person standing there is just a citizen or one of our undercover police officers,” he said. “So you might not want to commit that theft or whatever crime you were going to commit.”