3 southwestern suburban men charged with stealing nearly $300,000 in freight from Hodgkins station

According to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office, three men from the southwestern suburbs are charged with stealing nearly $300,000 worth of cargo, including more than 200 televisions, from a shipping container in a Hodgkins Rail Yard.

Baraa Abuowda, 36, of Orland Park; Sammih Kasem, 28, of Orland Hills; and Imad Qendah, 40, of Burbank, are charged with felony theft, according to Raoul’s office.

All three defendants have pleaded not guilty and Kasem’s next court date is scheduled for August 17, Qendah’s on August 24 and Abuowda’s on September 28, according to the attorney general.

His office said the charges stemmed from a month-long investigation involving BNSF Railroad Police and Hodgkins Police. The three are alleged to have stolen a shipping container from a BNSF intermodal terminal in Hodgkins that contained several pallets of televisions in transit to be sold at a retail store, according to Raoul’s office.

Investigators used GPS tracking of shipping containers to locate the stolen cargo, which had been transported from rail yards to a business in Bridgeview, according to the attorney general’s office.

Investigators used video and in-person monitoring to confirm that cargo was being unloaded from containers at that location and the televisions were recovered as part of the investigation, according to the office.

The robbery took place March 19, according to indictments against the three, which were filed June 22 in Cook County Circuit Court. The indictments noted that 246 Samsung TVs were removed from the shipping container.

Raoul said the charges were the result of a multi-jurisdictional investigation by his office’s Retail Organized Crime Task Force, and that other railroads, including Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation , along with Bridgeview and Hickory Hills police, had helped.

“Organized crime in retail is not limited to happening at physical retailers and rather can take place anywhere along the supply chain,” Raoul said in a press release.

[email protected]