Bar patron, cops whip up a surprise for alleged phone thief

Andrew Givens (L) and Alonzo Chavis are accused of trying to sell back a phone that was allegedly stolen at Hydrate nightclub in Boystown. | CPD; Google

Chicago police and a Boystown bar patron had a surprise waiting for two men who allegedly tried to charge $100 to return a phone that went missing in a Halsted Street nightclub this month. One of the accused men is a long-time Boystown ne’er-do-well. And the other is on parole for his role in two Champaign gas station robberies.

The victim, a 29-year-old man from Skokie, contacted police on Oct. 11 after his phone went missing during the early morning hours at Hydrate nightclub, 3548 North Halsted. Police said the man went home around 3:30 a.m., logged into his email, and discovered that someone transferred $200 from his bank account via Venmo without permission.

Investigators asked the victim to recontact them with additional information.

But the man went a step further. He called the number that allegedly received the $200 Venmo transfer and struck up a conversation with the man who reportedly answered, 30-year-old Andrew Givens.

Police said Givens “came into possession” of the victim’s phone right around the time the victim noticed it missing. However, Givens said he would only return the phone in exchange for $100 cash, the victim said. 

The man agreed to the deal and then gave police an update.

Undercover cops stationed themselves inside and outside the meet-up point: a table at Flo & Santos restaurant, 1310 South Wabash.

Police say Givens walked into the restaurant at 1:45 p.m. on Oct. 11, sat down at the victim’s table, and asked if he had the $100 cash. After seeing the money, Givens allegedly tried to leave the restaurant to get the phone from an accomplice, but undercover officers inside the eatery stopped him.

Police said in Givens’ arrest report that he gave them a description of his alleged accomplice and officers stationed outside the restaurant quickly spotted and detained 29-year-old Alonzo Chavis nearby.

Givens told police that he placed the stolen phone on the front porch of a nearby home before he entered the restaurant to meet with the victim. The Skokie man went to the porch, found the phone, and entered a security pattern to unlock it, proving his ownership, police said.

Prosecutors charged Givens and Chavis with one count of theft each and the men were released on recognizance bonds.

According to Chicago police records, the phone incident is Givens’ 21st arrest in the city since 2014.

Authorities charged him with trespassing after 22 vehicles were found burglarized in a parking garage near Belmont and Sheffield in 2014. Earlier that year, the Center on Halsted barred him from their building he allegedly threatened to knock the head off of a security guard at the LGBTQ service agency.

In 2017, a judge sentenced him to 24 months probation after he pleaded guilty to selling a gram of cocaine to an undercover officer outside of Roscoe’s Tavern in Boystown. Police say they found six bags of suspect cocaine as well as marked currency in Givens’ possession.

Chavis is on parole after serving half of a five-year sentence for aggravated battery of a police officer and a concurrent three-year sentence for theft from person in connection with two robberies in Champaign.

In 2013, he received a 2-1/2 year sentence for aggravated battery of a pregnant or handicapped person, according to state records.

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