Thefts soared at Lollapalooza this year, with pick-pocket cases up 100%; Two charged with possessing stolen phones

| Aneil Lutchman via Flickr

At least 209 people reported having cellphones and other valuables stolen by pickpockets and thieves during the four-day Lollapalooza festival in Grant Park earlier this month, far more than the 121 cases reported during last year’s event. A surge in first-day phone thefts at the event was reported by CWBChicago on Aug. 2nd.

In addition to the 138 reported pocket-pickings and 71 thefts by other methods, dozens of phones were recorded as “lost property” by police because owners did not know how their phones disappeared. Also cutting the number of official cases is the police department’s refusal to take reports at the venue. Theft victims at the concert were instead told to file a report later over the phone.

Ernesto Baldez (left) and Bryan Gonzalez | CPD

Only 31 pickpocket cases were reported throughout the rest of the city from midnight Aug. 1st through Aug. 4th, including eight in bars around the Wrigleyville and Boystown neighborhoods; ten near the intersection of State and Hubbard in River North; and five on CTA trains and platforms in the Loop.

Two adults have been charged with possessing stolen phones at the music festival, according to police records. Both are facing multiple charges:

  • Bryan Gonzalez, 29, was arrested at 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 1st after police allegedly saw him with several phones in the 200 block of East Jackson. Gonzalez, charged with two counts of theft of lost or mislaid property, is free on a recognizance bond.
  • Officers arrested 31-year-old Ernesto Baldez at 9:50 p.m. on Aug. 2nd after someone flagged them down to report seeing Baldez take a phone near the 500 block of South Columbus, according to a CPD spokesperson. Police said Baldez had “property that did not belong to him.” A police source identified the property as cellphones. Baldez, charged with four counts of theft of lost or mislaid property, was released on a recognizance bond.

This year’s total of 209 reported thefts including 138 pocket-pickings far exceded last year’s counts of 121 thefts with just 66 pickpocket cases during Lollapalooza.

Despite media reports of increased thefts at the festival, an Office of Emergency Management and Communications spokesperson “stressed” to the Chicago Tribune on Aug. 3rd that “the alleged increase of theft had not been communicated to” her department. At that point, 121 of the 138 pickpocket cases had already taken place.

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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