BRINGING SKETCHY BACK: “Charity” Solicitors Steal Phones And Wallets In Broadway, Belmont Spree

At least one and possibly two crews of thieves posing as charity fundraisers struck Boystown hard on Monday afternoon as they made their way along Broadway and Belmont, targeting customers inside cafes and restaurants—including 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney’s flagship Ann Sather location.

Image: Change Gangs

Victims discovered that they had lost phones and wallets to the crew at:

• Intelligentsia Coffee, 3123 N. Broadway around 12:25PM
• Argo Tea, 3135 N. Broadway at 12:32PM
• Starbucks, 3358 N. Broadway at 12:42PM

Inside Ann Sather, witnesses said two men walked up to customers in search of money while putting Panera Bread bags over the targeted victims’ cell phones in an attempt to steal it. Once they were scared away, the men were seen heading into a nearby Blaze Pizza.

The Intelligentsia victim had items stolen from her purse by the crew.

“They didn’t use force or anything and she didn’t realize it happened until after the men had left,” a friend of the victim told us. “Another patron saw them looking suspicious and suggested she check her bag, which is when she discovered the items gone.”

The scammers capitalized quickly on their success, charging over $2,500 in a matter of minutes at Marshall’s, Macy’s, and (wait for it) Blaze Pizza.

“It makes you wonder how they didn’t seem suspicious running into Macy’s, gathering $1,400 worth of stuff and using a credit card with a woman’s name on it,” the friend said.

Calling the victim’s experience “a cautionary tale for all of us,” the CWB Chicago reader wisely advises “being more careful with our personal belongings when in restaurants and stores, and to be more on alert for suspicious people around us.”


The easiest way to avoid being targeted by these thieves and their ilk is to be on alert whenever anyone is soliciting for charity (or themselves) inside a place of business. But, the descriptions of the men seen on Tuesday are…

Intelligentsia: Two middle-aged black men.

Argo Tea: Two black men. One tall with dreads. One shorter. One wore a tan hooded jacket.

Ann Sather: Black male, 6’1” with corn rows wearing a skull cap.

Starbucks: Two black men in their 20’s. One tall with a gray jacket. One short.

Below are images of suspects in a similar “fundraising” theft spree last September as broadcast on NBC5 Chicago.  These men are not yet known to be Monday’s offenders.

Previous Coverage On CWB Chicago
TEAM PHOTO: NBC5 Airs Video Of Thieves Who Pose As Sports Fundraisers (Sept 17, 2015)
NICE: Arrests, Sentencing, And… A “Fundraiser” Arrest (Sept 18, 2015)
TOO BAD, “SOSAD”: Flyer Boy For Fake Charity Is Charged (Oct 4, 2015)
BLOTTER: A Look At Some Recent Arrestees — More “SADness” (Oct 13, 2015)

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About CWBChicago 4275 Articles
CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is