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Crime Robberies up sharply in Chicago’s swanky Near North Side, raising residents’ concerns

17:56  20 january  2020
17:56  20 january  2020 Source:   chicagotribune.com

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The Near North Side is one of 77 defined community areas of Chicago , Illinois, United States. It is the northernmost of the three areas that constitute central Chicago , the others being the Loop and the Near South Side . The community area is located north and east of the Chicago River.

«» Several Robberies Reported on Chicago ' s Near North Side . Chicago police issued a Chicago police have issued an alert following several brazen armed robberies in the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park and River North neighborhoods. “I’m not always worried,” one resident said. “They’re up to no

A few hundred concerned citizens huddled in a gymnasium in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood hoping for answers from police about a recent spate of robberies in the downtown area and other parts of the Near North Side.

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Police are warning residents of two robberies that occurred on the Near North Side neighborhood earlier this week. The first robbery happened about 11 a.m. Thursday in the 0-100 block of West Hubbard Street and then about 7:30 a.m. Friday in the 300 block of North State Street, police said.

Police sought to bring a sense of calm while appealing for help from the standing room-only crowd that overflowed into the lobby of the Lake Shore Park field house.

“We are having people sitting in their cars targeting people and drive around. You see the same car drive around four or five times. That is something that we need to know,” Chicago police Cmdr. Daniel O’Shea, who heads the Near North patrol district, said in a raised voice. “Please do not hesitate to call 911.”

Several recent robberies — some of them within a block of one another near Water Tower Place — continued a worrisome trend for those at the community meeting.

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Chicago police are warning residents of three armed robberies reported in September in Near North Side neighborhoods. In each incident a man approaches victims and starts a conversation with them before implying that he is armed and announcing a robbery , Chicago police said in a community alert.

Chicago Police are warning residents of three recent robberies on the Near North Side . In all three incidents, one or more males walked up to people in the early morning hours and demanded their property, according to a community alert from police. March 12 in the 400 block of North State Street

Robberies have more than doubled in the last five years in this swath of Chicago’s central business district and some of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods, including Gold Coast, Streeterville, Magnificent Mile, River North and several others.

Last year, robberies totaled 416 in those neighborhoods, just two more than in 2017 but more than double from 204 in 2015, according to city crime data.

In 2019, the entire Near North patrol district, which also includes the Lincoln Park area, recorded 509 robberies, its most in at least 10 years, the official police statistics show.

While that pales by comparison to certain pockets of the city’s South and West sides that struggle with violent crime and poverty — the West Side’s Harrison District, for instance, saw at least 720 robberies last year — residents as well as tourists expect better for an area boasting the highest real estate values in the city.

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Robberies reported on North , Near North sides : police. The robbers either threatened violence or Police are warning North and Near North Side residents of a series of robberies reported in River North , Lincoln Sign up for the newsletter Breaking News. Know about breaking news as it happens.

CBS 2's Audrina Bigos reports on what some in Chicago ' s Near West Side have to say about a string of armed robberies in the area and what police want people to do if they're held up .

O’Shea told the Chicago Tribune that robbers often target unsuspecting pedestrians talking on their cellphones while oblivious to their surroundings, snatching their phones away. In other cases, they demand money or other valuables without displaying a weapon but threatening harm. In the worst incidents, they resort to violence, beating up the victim.

One 59-year-old man, for instance, was tackled from behind as he walked in the 200 block of East Pearson Street on Dec. 30 and repeatedly punched on the head by an attacker who then rummaged through his pockets, police said.

The rash of robberies has continued into 2020 with 23 for the entire Near North patrol district in the first 12 days of January, the most over the last five years for that period, the police statistics show. Some happened within a block of each other in the tony Gold Coast, home to luxury condominiums, lavish shops and department stores, and iconic landmarks such as the Drake Hotel and the former John Hancock Center.

Some of the recent incidents involved as many as two or three suspects in their late teens or 20s teaming up on the robberies before fleeing in a white SUV or white sedan, police said.

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Police are warning North Side residents about two armed robberies that happened Wednesday in the Lincoln Park and North Center neighborhoods. Robbers approached the victims on the street, showed a handgun and demanded property, according to a community alert from Chicago Police.

Police are warning residents about a recent string of cellphone robberies on the Near North Side . In each incident, the suspects approached the victim from behind, grabbed the cellphone, then ran away or rode away on a bicycle, according to a community alert from Chicago Police.

Just last Thursday, a robber struck in broad daylight in the 800 block of North Dewitt Place near Lake Shore Park, pushing a 70-year-old woman, grabbing her purse and fleeing in a car east toward Lake Shore Drive.

In recent years, particularly during the summer, police had to deal with large groups of teens who traveled mostly on the CTA to the Magnificent Mile and other high-end spots on the Near North Side, creating disturbances and, in some cases, robbing passersby.

But police said that in the latest spate of robberies, suspects typically drive to the posh area by car, often stolen, before jumping out, holding up a passerby and then quickly driving off.

“One of the challenges that we are facing is that (the area) is right off Lake Shore Drive,” O’Shea told the crowd at the community meeting earlier this month. “These people are coming in stolen cars and getting off the drive. They are attacking people, and they’re getting right on Lake Shore Drive and going southbound.”

Police presence around the Gold Coast, Magnificent Mile and Streeterville areas has been beefed up because of the spike in robberies, O’Shea said. In addition to plainclothes tactical officers, O’Shea has used undercover cops as well as officers used to saturate hot spots in parts of the city seeing upticks in crime. The department also regularly assigns officers to overtime shifts along North Michigan Avenue.

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Four armed robberies have been reported in the Near West Side and South Loop neighborhoods in the last three weeks. In each case, a man got out of a black four-door car, walked up to victims and pulled out a handgun, then demanded their property, according to a community alert from Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS)—An uptick in reports of criminals posing as rideshare drivers has prompted Two men are going around the Near North Side picking people up and then robbing them with force or by gunpoint, police said. The robberies have occurred in Lincoln Park, Old Town and River North .

Police offered practical tips on being more vigilant. Walk in well-lit areas. Don’t travel alone. Wear your purse under your coat. And don’t be preoccupied with that cellphone as you walk about.

“He’s trying to size you up,” Near North District Officer Theresa Kelly warned the crowd in a booming voice. “To him, you’re just an unaware, vulnerable victim.”

Victims should try their best to remember a suspect’s description. Accurately recalling three features would be better than 10 vague ones, police said.

Kelly suggested some consider buying a personal alarm, a small noise-making device that fits in the palm of your hand.

“She’s got five of them,” the officer said of one of attendees, drawing laughter from the crowd.

O’Shea explained how police have to weigh the risk of pursuing fleeing robbery suspects in police cars with the inherent danger to the public.

Still, he said, criminals are too brazen to care about any of that.

“They have no fear of the police,” he told the crowd. “No fear of prosecution.”

Some at the meeting voiced concerns about whether police and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office were doing enough to deal with the problem.

One man talked about calling 911 after spotting a crime in progress yet no officers showed up. Others groaned when police talked about how prosecutors must approve before felony charges can be filed.

After the meeting, one woman who’s lived in the Gold Coast/Streeterville area for 16 years told a Tribune reporter that she can’t walk outdoors without feeling uneasy.

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Police are warning residents about a recent string of armed robberies in the Lincoln Park neighborhood and on the Near North Side . In four incidents, victims were either picked up in what is believed to be a ride sharing vehicle or were walking when someone used force or pulled out a

Chicago (/ʃɪˈkɑːɡoʊ/ (listen), locally also /ʃɪˈkɔːɡoʊ/), officially the City of Chicago , is the most populous city in the U. S . state of Illinois, and the third most populous city in the United States.

Most of the recent spate of Gold Coast robberies occurred near Gary Osifchin’s condo building. Before moving downtown last month, he had lived in New York City for 15 years and said he never felt unsafe.

A marketing executive by trade, Osifchin was caught off guard by the robbery spree and disappointed at how vigilant he needs to be in what he thought was one Chicago’s safest neighborhoods. He said he’s even purchased a personal alarm that blares as loud as 130 decibels with flashing lights.

“I came home Saturday night from being out with friends, and I made sure that I just took an Uber right to my door, that I didn’t take the subway and walk over," Osifchin, who attended the community meeting, said in a later telephone interview. "So I mean it’s already changing my behavior.”

Realtor Stephen DiPadua, a Gold Coast resident for seven years, said he worries about criminals who “will approach anyone at anytime.”

He wants a more robust police presence in the area.

“When the commanders are saying, ‘We’re doing our best and we’ve identified a white vehicle,’ that’s great," he said in a telephone interview days after the meeting. "But why aren’t there more police dispatched into this neighborhood to be able to roam the neighborhood either on foot, on bicycle, on horseback, on scooter, whatever it is, so that we can eradicate what we have going on? This is a neighborhood that is not used to it.”

jgorner@chicagotribune.com

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