Loop pickpocket team caught on video, cops say

Left: An alleged pickpocket covers his hand with a shopping bag to conceal his actions. Right: Screen image of two men police say were involved in the Hyatt theft. | CPD

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Chicago police have released surveillance video of a pickpocket theft team working in a major downtown hotel. The footage shows just how quick and sneaky such teams can be.

The video captured images of a two-man team as they targeted a guest at an elevator bank inside Chicago’s Hyatt Regency Hotel, 151 East Wacker, at 3:27 p.m. on Sept. 1, according to police.

One member of the team gets close to a piece of luggage that the victim is pulling behind them. Then, the thief uses a large Staples shopping bag to cover his hand as he removes a wallet or other valuable item from the victim’s luggage.

Once the pickpocket has his grasp on the item, the rest goes off like clockwork: He conceals the stolen property inside the large bag, then backs away from the elevator to create distance between himself and the victim. The elevator doors will soon close. By the time the victim figures out what happened, they will likely be several floors away and the criminal will be long gone.

Police said a second man seen standing near the elevator is part of the team — likely serving as a look-out or causing a diversion.

The men seen in the Hyatt Regency video resemble a two-man pickpocket team that police have warned downtown ‘L’ passengers about twice in the past month.

In a community alert issued Oct. 6, police said the two men seen below had struck repeatedly in the Loop subway system. 

CTA images of two men wanted for pickpocketing on downtown ‘L’ trains. | CPD

The offenders work together to take wallets from passengers’ pockets and book bags, police said. One man creates a diversion or blocks the victim’s path while the other relieves the victim of their wallet, the alert said.

Police said pickpockets wear a variety of baseball hats and are 45- and 60-years-old.

The team is responsible for at least nine thefts from victims on board CTA trains and in train stations: in the first block of West Jackson at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 23; in the 200 block of South State at 5 p.m. on Sept. 24 and again at 5 p.m. on Oct. 2; in the 300 block of South Dearborn at 2:47 p.m. on Sept. 19; in the 1100 block of South State at 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 28; in the 200 block of South Wabash at 3:20 p.m. on Sept. 30 and again at 8 p.m. on Oct. 1; and on the 100 block of North Dearborn at 3:37 p.m. on Sept. 23 and 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 2.

It’s worth noting that the Sept. 30 incident on the 200 block of South Wabash took place just a few minutes before the Hyatt Regency theft unfolded a few blocks away.

Area Central detectives released an earlier alert about the crew in late September.

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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 news@cwbchicago.com