They’re b-a-a-a-c-k: Phone thieves are trolling this weekend’s Pride Fest in Boystown, CPD reports show

Phone thieves are once again targeting revelers at this weekend’s Pride Fest in Boystown, according to CPD reports reviewed by CWBChicago. This year’s street party, usually a two-day affair held in June, has been moved to October due to COVID and is expanded to three days.

Rainy weather may have dampened the party, but organized groups of phone thieves are still on the job — just as they were during June’s Pride in the Park event, Boystown’s Market Days festival in August, and Lollapalooza.

At least ten phone thefts were reported at Pride Fest on Friday. We know of three more from Saturday.

More than 30 people lost phones and other property to pickpockets while attending Pride Fest in 2019. Officials canceled the event last year due to COVID.

Typically, thieves that work major events ply their trade in highly-congested areas and dance floors where victims may not pay attention to random bumping and touching.

The actual number of phones stolen is probably much higher than the crime stats suggest. Unless victims are sure that someone stole their phone, the police classify the incident as “lost property” rather than a crime.

Police recovered more than 120 stolen phones and made seven arrests during this summer’s Lollapalooza in Grant Park. City records show that 311 thefts and pickpocketings were reported on the festival grounds and immediately adjacent streets this year.

There were 29 thefts reported during this year’s Market Days, including seven from within Boystown bars. Nearly all of those cases were reported on the 3300 and 3400 blocks of North Halsted Street, where the largest crowds gather and dance floors were located.

Police recorded 39 theft and pickpocketing reports during June’s Pride in the Park event, a two-day LGBTQ-focused show held in Grant Park. Another 16 thefts were reported in Boystown bars over the weekend, which are the traditional dates for Chicago’s Pride celebrations. Near all of those thefts happened on the 3300 block of North Halsted, which is home to the city’s premiere LGBTQ-focused bars like Sidetrack and Roscoe’s Tavern.

Three people were charged with misdemeanors after police allegedly found them in a car with more than 60 stolen phones near Montrose Harbor that weekend. According to CPD inventory records reviewed by CWBChicago, most of the stolen phones’ SIM cards had been removed and taped to the backs of the devices, which would make them impossible to track via GPS.

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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