Cook County man faces three felony counts for defrauding home improvement businesses of significant sums
A man from Cook County stands accused of defrauding multiple home improvement businesses, resulting in losses amounting to thousands of dollars. Thomas McNeal, aged 62 and a resident of Westchester, is now facing serious legal charges. He has been charged with three counts of theft or unauthorized control of items valued between $10,000 and $500,000, as well as one count of continuing a financial crimes enterprise.
According to law enforcement authorities, McNeal is believed to be one of the individuals involved in an extensive operation aimed at committing retail thefts by means of fabricated sales tax returns, which were exchanged for gift cards. These fraudulent activities reportedly took place on several occasions across various home improvement retail outlets.
McNeal's apprehension occurred following an investigation by the Chicago Police Department's Organized Retail Crime Task Force, in collaboration with the Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force. Subsequently, he was taken into custody and formally charged in connection with these alleged crimes.
The Organized Retail Crime Task Force was initiated by Illinois in 2021 by Attorney General Kwame Raoul. This initiative is focused on tackling organized retail theft on a statewide scale.
Raoul emphasized that this criminal activity contributes to approximately $45 billion in annual losses throughout Illinois. The Organized Retail Crime Task Force represents a collaborative effort that unites law enforcement agencies from across the state with retail advocacy organizations and prominent retailers such as Lowe's, The Home Depot, Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart.
“The magnitude of this problem is significant,” Raoul said. “Even during the looting that we saw last year on the edges of legitimate protest, we came to understand that some of this criminal activity was not merely opportunistic but organized in advance.”
The Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force (GLRFTF) commenced its activities in April 2003, establishing itself as one of the earliest Regional Fugitive Task Forces to achieve full operational status in accordance with the Presidential Threat Protection Act of 2000. The GLRFTF has formal partnership agreements in place with more than 96 federal, state, and local agencies and operates seven fully functional offices.
Since its inception, the Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force has effectively captured over 107,000 fugitives, making a significant impact on the apprehension of the region's most dangerous and violent wanted individuals. Their ongoing mission is to enhance community safety by relentlessly pursuing these fugitives.