An Evanston business owner was charged this week with multiple felony counts for allegedly purchasing thousands of dollars in stolen merchandise.
James Coello, 47, of Chicago, owns and operates North Shore Coin at 1501 Chicago Ave., Evanston.
Evanston police, who worked in conjunction with the Cook County Sheriff’s Police and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, say Coello purchased thousands of dollars of stolen jewelry and other valuables during a sting operation.
He appeared in bond court Wednesday after being charged with one felony count each of Organizer of a Continuing Financial Crimes Enterprise, Continuing a Financial Crimes Enterprise and Theft.
The investigation into Coello started about six months ago, police said, when they suspected the mechandise stolen in residential home burglaries was being purchased at his store.
Undercover officers, posing as burglars, began bringing items into North Shore Coin to sell, police said. During their conversations, the officers alluded to Coello that the merchandise was stolen. The investigation revealed that Coello was not recording the sales or requesting identification from sellers, police said.
According to investigators, Coello assured the undercover officers that he would not reveal the source of the goods and further assured them that he always melted the valuables down quickly, police said. During a subsequent meeting, an undercover officer told the defendant that he had purchased his sale items from another burglar, but that he also sometimes steals things himself. Coello advised him that it was better to be a middleman than a burglar because they typically faced less serious charges when caught, a police release said. On another occasion, the defendant advised undercover officers not to steal near Evanston and not to tell anyone else about his business, it said.
During the course of the investigation, Coello was recorded buying thousands of dollars worth of purportedly stolen merchandise that included watches, gold and silver rings, coins, necklaces, and other valuables.
On Tuesday, Cook County Sheriff’s Police, Evanston Police, and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office executed a search warrant on North Shore Coin and recovered property that had been reported stolen in recent area burglaries.
Coello appeared in court Wednesday at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse in Skokie where bail was set at $250,000 and his case was continued to October 18 for a preliminary hearing.