CLAYTON, Mo. – A Hillsdale, Missouri, man was charged Tuesday with stealing more than $71,000 in merchandise from multiple businesses in the region over a five-month span. Police and prosecutors allege he used juveniles to commit the crimes. The suspect is not yet in police custody.
The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Carlos Willis a felony count of stealing – $25,000 or more.
“It is concerning, and as a result of that, we’ve created a retail task force, working with many of our community partners in the retail industry, because this has been an issue,” Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said.
The crimes occurred from late September 2022 to late February 2023, according to a probable cause statement obtained from the St. Louis County Police Department.
Authorities claim Willis hit several Ulta Beauty stores and numerous Dick’s Sporting Goods, from west to south county, racking up more than $50,000 in stolen goods in 16 separate thefts.
The probable cause statement says Willis uses wigs to disguise himself, and that he and his juvenile cohorts have given false identities whenever questioned by authorities.
On Dec. 6, 2022, Willis was arrested and interview by U.S. Secret Service agents and a St. Louis County detective for multiple thefts.
Prosecutors claim Willis posted the stolen merchandise for sale on Facebook Marketplace less than 24 hours after the thefts.
“We see there is a black market expanding. People selling things on social media and things of that nature,” Bell said. “We do want people to be careful when they see things on social media for sale.”
Detectives also believe Willis responsible for thefts at Ulta Beauty stores in St. Charles County, Missouri, and St. Clair County, Illinois.
Anyone with information on Willis’ whereabouts is asked to contact CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.