Boystown: Nightclub theft ring may be busted after cops find 60+ phones in trio’s car

Well, isn’t this interesting?

Cops who responded to a call of an intoxicated driver near Montrose Harbor Saturday morning found much more than just a drunk motorist inside the vehicle, according to Chicago police. Scattered across the car’s floor was a “large amount of cellphones,” a police spokesperson. In fact, more than 60 phones, all likely stolen, littered the floorboard, a source said.

Police arrested three occupants of the gray Mazda around 6:40 a.m. on the 300 block of West Montrose Harbor Drive — a 34-year-old woman and two men whose ages are 33 and 28, Officer Steve Rusanov said.

Most of the phones’ SIM cards had been removed and taped to their cases, according to a source. Removing the SIM cards would make it impossible for owners to track the stolen devices. Police worked to reunite owners with their phones through the weekend.

Rusanov said Area Three detectives are investigating the surprise discovery.

Some of the phones were reported stolen less than three hours earlier from a bar in Boystown, according to a police report. While it remains to be seen where all of the recovered devices came from, phone thieves ran rampant through Boystown bars and festivals during the summer of 2019.

During the weekend of June 22 and 23, 2019, more than 35 people filed police reports after losing their phones to pickpockets in Boystown. CPD records show 27 of those thefts took place within the grounds of Pride Fest, an annual Halsted Street celebration that was canceled last year and rescheduled for October of this year due to COVID.

The next weekend, at least six women lost phones to pickpockets inside Halsted Street bars during Pride Parade festivities, according to an alert issued by police in July 2019. Another wave of pickpocket reports hit the Boystown bars in August 2019. Five people reported having their phones stolen at a single Halsted Street bar in under an hour on one Saturday night that month, according to CPD records.

Analysis of police reports shows many victims tell police their phones were stolen while grooving on packed dancefloors or walking through crowded clubs. By comparison, before the dawn of compact, powerful, and expensive smartphones, CTA buses, trains, and platforms were the site of most pocket-pickings in Lakeview.

CWBChicago will post an update if charges are filed in connection with the trove of phones police recovered Saturday.

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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