Update: Subsequent to our report, Chicago police issued a community alert about the crime spree. Investigators connected an additional incident to the pattern, a robbery on the 3600 block of North Clark at 3 a.m. Sunday.
Chicago police are investigating a series of armed robberies, auto theft, and a “shots fired” incident that were reported from Lakeview to the Lower West Side on Sunday. At least eight crimes were reported involving similarly-described vehicles and similar methods of operation.
The crime spree began at 9:35 a.m. on the 3200 block of North Southport in Lakeview. There, a 48-year-old woman was unloading groceries from her car when a man asked for directions, then pulled out a handgun and demanded the keys to both of her vehicles, said Officer Michelle Tannehill, a CPD spokesperson.
The woman turned them over, and the robbers fled in her gray 2019 Subaru, Tannehill said.
At 10 a.m., a 40-year-old man reported that he was making a delivery on the 2900 block of North Mildred when someone got into his vehicle and drove away, according to Tannehill. A witness saw the offender get out of a black sedan before stealing the victim’s car.
Then, at 10:20 a.m., two men stole a silver Jeep Cherokee that a 25-year-old woman left idling while she ran into Starbucks, 3649 North Clark, according to a CPD report. Her Jeep, which has a vanity license plate beginning with NOLL and distinctive stickers on the rear, would later be observed at other crime scenes. Once again, the offenders arrived in a black sedan. A black Jeep Cherokee was also seen in the immediate area.
More potentially-connected incidents popped up a couple of hours later on the Lower West Side, according to CPD reports.
Around 12:50 p.m., a man reported that someone fired shots from a black Jeep Cherokee as he drove near 19th Street and Oakley Avenue. The victim was not injured, but he said the Jeep was accompanied by a gray vehicle.
At about the same time, a gunman approached another victim on the street, presented a handgun, and asked for money on the 2300 block of West 19th Street, according to a CPD report. The victim said he ran away, and the offender chased him for a short time. He said the offenders used two Jeep Cherokees — one black, the other silver.
The West Town neighborhood appears to have been targeted by the crew next.
Two 27-year-old women were walking on the 1500 block of West Fry when a group of offenders approached them from behind and robbed them at 1:20 p.m., Tannehill said. The offenders then got into a black Jeep Cherokee and fled northbound through an alley. An officer at the scene broadcast a description of the vehicles that included the vanity license plate that was taken in the Starbucks auto theft earlier.
Moments later, a 31-year-old woman was walking on the 1600 block of West Cortez when a man got out of dark-colored Jeep Cherokee and demanded her valuables at gunpoint, according to Tannehill. The victim told police that a silver SUV followed the black Jeep.
Then, the crime wave returned to Lakeview.
According to initial reports, three men got out of a black SUV and robbed a woman of her purse as she walked near Lakewood and Grace streets around 2 p.m. She told police that all three men brandished firearms.
Less than five minutes later, two women reported being robbed at gunpoint as they walked near Racine and Cornelia streets. The offenders pushed one woman down, took the other’s purse, then fled in a silver Jeep Cherokee. The victims provided police with the same vanity license plate number that was on the previously-stolen SUV, according to initial information.
Some victims said up to six men were seen split among the two Jeeps.
The victim on Cortez described the gunman as a skinny Black male who stands about 5’7″ tall. He was wearing black pants and a black shirt or sweatshirt that has red on the front, according to the victim.