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HIGHLAND PARK (CBS11) – In what police call a bold smash and grab burglary, thieves crashed a minivan into the Chanel store window in Highland Park Village and stole 45 handbags, each worth up to $15,000.
It happened at 6:20 a.m. Monday.
Moments later, officers from Highland Park, Dallas, and Texas DPS converged on a neighborhood in nearby University Park.
Ismael Mohamad Ali, a contractor, says he saw one suspect hiding in a home under construction. “He came out from the hole. I said what are you doing here? He said I’m homeless.”
By 8:00 a.m., police arrested the suspect who Ali saw and five other suspects.
Some hid in a backyard along Potomac Avenue.
Scott Wallingford and his ten year old son Finn saw and heard the commotion.
Finn said, “I looked outside and there were all these police cars running down the street and then they took some guy out of a home and I was wondering what was going on.”
His dad said, “I thought it was pretty crazy. I saw helicopters circling the neighborhood which is not a normal thing on a Monday morning.”
Police say the thieves used a burgundy minivan to knock out Chanel’s side window along Preston Road.
In addition to the handbags, police say the suspects stole a $1400 pair of shoes.
Afterwards, they escaped in the burgundy van and a white minivan.
Police say they recovered the merchandise from both vans along with a large garbage bag.
Authorities and managers at Chanel are now trying to determine how much the stolen goods are worth. Detectives also reviewed surveillance video from inside Chanel.
The incident stunned Highland Park Village shoppers.
Beverly Ensslen said, “That’s incredible. I didn’t know about that til recently and I’m just shocked.”
Another shopper, Beverly Barker says, “Surprising, not what I expected to find when I drove up from Waco this morning.”
Police credit the security guard who saw the incident and immediately called police. “He thought the van pulled into the Highland Park Village but what the van did was crash into the display window.”
Loyal shoppers say despite what happened, they’re not going anywhere. Barker said she drives up from Waco once a month to shop. “It’s lovely, great restaurants, great shopping, very pleasant way to spend the day.”
Police say all seven suspects, including the juveniles, face felony charges.
A Highland Park Village spokeswoman says a guard will now spend the night inside the store.
That’s in addition to the security guard they have here for the rest of the shopping center.
Monday’s smash and grab isn’t the first at the store.
A Highland Park Village spokeswoman says in September, 2013, a thief threw a rock into the front glass door and made off with merchandise within 40 seconds.
After that, the store put in this metal gate.
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