An armed hold-up crew swept through River North early Thursday, leaving one man shot and eight people robbed in under 30 minutes. The robbers appear to be the same group that has targeted the area on August 30. They have also been linked to armed robberies in the suburbs.
Ironically, Thursday’s robberies unfolded as the 18th District conducted a “show-of-force” outdoor roll call at State and Hubbard as part of CPD’s strategy to reduce violent crime.
The roll call, which brought all available officers from the district to 1 East Hubbard, was announced at 1:41 a.m. Four minutes later, the first of this morning’s armed robberies was reported just a few blocks away, according to a CPD media release. At about the same time, CPD received a tip that a phone taken one hour earlier in a robbery at a Lansing gas station was “pinging” in River North.
Then, the robberies began.
Three men were walking on the 300 block of West Ontario when three offenders emerged from a black SUV around 1:45 a.m., a CPD report said. Each of the robbers displayed a handgun as they demanded the victims’ phones and wallets. The crew returned to the SUV, which a woman drove, and fled.
Around 2 a.m., two men were robbed at gunpoint by four offenders who stepped out of an SUV on the 600 block of North LaSalle. The victims told police they heard a gunshot nearby after they were robbed.
That gunshot may have been from the crew’s third robbery.
Police said two men and a woman were sitting in a car on the 200 block of West Erie when two men and a woman got out of a black SUV and began to rob them at gunpoint around 2:10 a.m.
According to police, a 31-year-old man who was in the car struggled with an offender who fired a shot, striking the victim in his back. The offenders also robbed a 31-year-old woman in the front seat of two purses and a 32-year-old passenger of his wallet and phone, police said.
The two victims drove the gunshot victim to Rush Hospital for treatment.
Police tracked one of the phones taken in today’s first robbery to the West Pullman neighborhood, and officers spotted the SUV. But the driver sped away from police and escaped.
Monday’s robbery crew consisted of three or four Black men and a Black woman who may be driving a stolen Honda CRV. A similar group of robbers used a white Mercedes SUV to commit six armed robberies in River North and Streeterville on August 29 and 30.
Police issued a community alert about some of those crimes, but no arrests have been announced.
Detectives have been assigned to investigate robbery sprees across the downtown area and North Side many times this summer. Waves of hold-ups were reported on June 4, June 26, July 27, July 29, August 7, August 8 and 9, and other dates.
But, CWBChicago has reported, Chicago police executives have been hampering investigations by requiring robbery investigators to put their casework on hold. Instead, detectives have been assigned to sit in cars on street corners in high-violence neighborhoods and patrol Lollapalooza, among other non-investigative tasks.