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8 charged with stealing from Edina store; links to other high-end thefts probed

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Eight Chicago-area men who led police on a 100-mile-an-hour chase through southern suburbs of the Twin Cities this week now face criminal charges.

The Hennepin County Attorney's office filed theft charges against all of the men, while the driver of their van is also charged with fleeing police in a vehicle, the county announced Thursday.

Wednesday's chase came after thousands of dollars worth of high-end merchandise was stolen from a Louis Vuitton store in Edina.

Prosecutors say one of the men – Leon White – waited in the van while the other seven ran into the store as it was opening at 10 a.m. According to the County Attorney's office:

"They ran through the store grabbing as much merchandise as they could and ran out to a waiting van with White in the driver’s seat.

A former security guard was parked in the lot and was suspicious of the van. When he saw the men running out of the store with merchandise and dragging security ropes and tags, he called police and followed the van as it headed south on Penn Avenue."

The ensuing chase involved officers from four police departments and the State Patrol.

Edina Police Lt. Brian Tholen tells CBS Chicago that investigators believe the men are part of a much larger theft ring.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says the FBI has been investigating similar thefts at other Louis Vuitton stores around the country, and adds that some of the men charged in the Twin Cities appear in surveillance footage from other robberies around the country.

The Chicago station reports that police in Oak Brook, Illinois, said a Sep. 7 robbery at a Louis Vuitton in that city may have a link to the men arrested in Minnesota.

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