Police: Thieves steal $60K of toilet paper, plasticware
By Brian Stanley firstname.lastname@example.org August 29, 2011 4:46PM
Juan J. Hernandez
Updated: November 4, 2011 5:36PM
ELWOOD — Police say a warehouse worker partnered with a convicted murderer to rip off $60,000 in toilet paper and plastic utensils.
“Between February and April, trailerloads of merchandise were stolen from the Georgia-Pacific facility, 21837 W. Mississippi Ave.,” Cmdr. Patrick Kerr said.
The investigation began May 18 when the company notified police pallets of bath tissue and Dixie cutlery meant for big-box retailers were missing.
“We got a tip to look at local flea markets,” Kerr said. “And on June 4, officers went to Derald’s Flea Market, 219 Maple St. in Joliet, where we found two vendors selling items stolen from Georgia-Pacific.”
Police seized about $1,000 in merchandise and allegedly learned it had been supplied by Juan J. Hernandez, 25, an inventory control specialist at the warehouse.
On July 20, police executed search warrants for two units at a storage facility in Joliet where they found more than $10,000 of paper products and plastic cutlery in a 10-by-30 garage, Kerr said.
Hernandez was arrested Aug. 23 at his home, 1322 Cumberland Drive in Joliet, and booked into the county jail on a charge of theft. His bond was set at $500,000.
Tracking toilet paper
Police also learned “an entire truckload of bath tissue, 30 pallets” stolen from the facility and valued at more than $20,000 had been sold to Bailey’s Discount Center in North Judson, Ind. Kerr said five pallets of toilet paper and 10 trays of knives, forks and spoons were recovered.
William Chaban, 35, of Lockport, reportedly made that sale while awaiting trial for the murder of his mother-in-law.
On June 18, 2007, Chaban strangled Irene Opalinska in the bathtub of her Chicago home. Arrested two months later, Chaban had been out on bond until he was sentenced to 45 years in prison earlier this summer. While out on bond, he made the sale of the stolen items, police say.
After he was convicted of murder, Chaban was transferred Aug. 5 from Cook County jail to Stateville Correctional Center.
“The cases are unrelated,” Kerr said. “Though (Chaban) has not yet been served with the arrest warrant, he will be prosecuted.”
A statement by Chief Nick Weiss credited Kerr and Officer Nick Adams with leading the investigation, which was assisted by Joliet, Aurora, Will County sheriff’s and Starke County, Ind., police and the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.