Chicago area retailers try brazen grab-and-run thefts during the holiday season – NBC Chicago
Police departments in numerous communities, including Chicago, are working to tackle a number of brazen heists from department stores and high-end retail stores, some of which have been videotaped.
Some of the heists occurred right in the heart of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, including the Burberry flagship store on Michigan Avenue.
In the theft, four thieves stole thousands of dollars’ worth of designer purses and other items late Monday afternoon. A 23-year-old employee and a 66-year-old shopper were slightly injured in the theft, and none of the suspects was caught before leaving the store.
Ald. Brian Hopkins of Chicago’s Second Station says the officers are working hard to identify suspects, saying that some of the people involved in the thefts are actually part of organized efforts that are essentially “taking orders” before they make their move.
“The people at the top make sizeable sums of money targeting this high-end merch, and they have jobs where they know they can sell it before they even steal it,” he said.
Chicago stores aren’t the only ones facing the challenges of mass theft. Several suburban businesses were also hit, including the Louis Vuitton store in Oakbrook Center, where 14 people stormed the store and stole items before escaping in three waiting vehicles.
Northbrook police have stepped up patrols in the area following a similar theft at a local Louis Vuitton location, and shopkeepers are also reacting, changing displays and trying to prevent thieves from accessing goods.
Hopkins says he has received complaints from Chicago retailers that inventory shrinkage is growing rapidly due to increased thefts.
“Employees also steal goods because they see how easy it is,” he said. “Businesses don’t enforce their rules and we hear stories from employees doing insider jobs.”
Hopkins says some stores are reluctant to consider options like buzzers, locks, and blinds, saying this promotes an almost militarized image, but says increased efforts are needed to control the goods.
“Most employers have told their employees to step down and not take the risk,” he said. “The problem is, thieves know that too, so they act with impunity.”
Part of the solution to this problem, Hopkins says, is to step up police patrols, and he believes these extra downtown officials have had an impact so far this Christmas season simply because they were there.
“Known looters in vehicles, we were tracking who was circling Michigan Avenue and after a while when they saw a visible, heavy police presence, they just drove away,” he said.
Chicago officials hope the stores’ extra security and measures will help keep shoppers safe over the holiday season, especially as more out-of-town visitors are coming to town due to advances in the fight against the coronavirus.