Round Lake brothers may be linked to Home Depot thefts in 19 other states, authorities say
Authorities say twin brothers charged with stealing from a Downers Grove Home Depot store could be connected to similar thefts totaling almost $926,000 at the company's stores in 19 other states.
John J. Miotke and Michael R. Miotke, 42, both of Round Lake, are each charged with theft. They appeared in DuPage County court this week. Michael Miotke turned himself in Tuesday, and John Miotke did Wednesday. Both are free on bail.
DuPage County Assistant State's Attorney Diane Michalak told Judge Jeffrey MacKay Wednesday that she anticipates the brothers could soon face a more serious charge of conducting a continuing financial crimes enterprise. She argued bail for both should be increased from the $75,000 set when arrest warrants were issued Oct. 2.
But MacKay granted the Miotkes' requests to lower their bails. Their girlfriends posted the required $5,000.
According to court records, on Aug. 16, 2018, John Miotke stole flooring, grills, power washers and lighting from the Downers Grove store, and on Nov. 15, 2018, Michael Miotke stole flooring, grills, power washers and lighting.
Home Depot's organized-retail-crime investigators notified Downers Grove police, and they all worked together, Downers Grove police spokesman William Budds said. The theft charges were approved Oct. 2.
At John Miotke's bond hearing, Michalak said the duo used two methods: In one, they would buy items from a Home Depot store and leave. They would then re-enter the store, pick up identical items and "return" them using the receipt from the initial purchase.
At other times, Michalak said, they would go into a store, pick up items and walk out; if questioned, they would present a receipt from a previous purchase of the identical item.
Michalak said it is believed they have been doing this since October 2014 in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, California, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
She said records indicate that since March 2016, they are suspected of making fraudulent returns of 237 lawn mowers and 238 pressure washers, each valued at $599. Authorities also suspect them of fraudulent returns of 313 cases of vinyl flooring, and 164 snowblowers.
She also argued bail should be increased because when the brothers were informed of the outstanding warrant in their cases, they went on "a road trip" to Texas and Colorado.
The brothers pleaded guilty in 1998 to making and passing counterfeit currency in Texas. According to an Arlington, Texas, newspaper article, they were caught using fake $20 bills to buy items at a souvenir shop at Six Flags Over Texas. Federal court records show John Miotke was sentenced to 18 months in prison, Michael to 24 months.
John Miotke received court supervision in 2010 in Lake County on a theft charge. Michalak said it appears he was charged in the late 1990s, in Texas, with two burglaries and one theft. He was convicted of one burglary, and it appears prosecution was deferred on the other charges, she said.