Eight people from Indiana have been arrested for allegedly stealing computer equipment, TVs and over-the-counter medication from freight trains in the Chicago area and northwest Indiana, officials said today.

In addition to the rail thefts, the eight-month investigation also uncovered an auto theft ring that stole at least 18 vehicles and two motorcycles valued at $291,000, said Lake County, Ind., Sheriff John Buncich. In total, authorities have recovered $2.8 million in stolen cargo and automobiles, he said.

“These guys really had an operation going,” he said.

Authorities have issued warrants for about a dozen more individuals from the Chicago area and Indiana in connection with the thefts, Buncich added.

After a rash of thefts from freight cars, authorities eight months ago began investigating and found individuals stealing from rail cars stopped overnight or for a brief period of time. They targeted rail yards in the Miller and Gary, Ind., areas as well as the Bedford Park and Western Avenue rail yards in Illinois, Buncich said.

The thieves targeted “high-ticket items” that they could move easily, such as televisions, computer equipment and more than $1 million in over-the-counter medication, like Tylenol and Rolaids, earmarked for Walgreens, said Buncich.

Afterward, the thieves sold the goods online and at Chicago storefronts, Buncich said. Firearms were also recovered during the investigation, he added.

The individuals arrested are Cleveland Neal, 35, Onrae Jordan, 29, Carl Rogers, 34, Larry Williams, 35, James Magee, 25, all of Gary; Triston Smith, 34, of Hammond; Derrick Frazier, 45, of Merrillville and Amanda Grove, 32, of Crown Point.

The felony charges against them include possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of a stolen firearm, possession of paraphernalia, possession of a retagged vehicle and fleeing.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office worked the case with the CSX railroad and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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