Gulp! Convenience store closure sparks letter-writing campaign in Wicker Park: “They steal a lot up in here.”

A long-time community activist in Wicker Park and Bucktown hopes neighbors will get involved in a letter-writing campaign to Cook County leaders as a neighborhood convenience store prepared to close its doors for good.

“The 7-Eleven at 1658 North Milwaukee is closing permanent after being pilfered daily by shoplifters the last year,” Steve Jensen said in a Facebook group post over the weekend. “We fear the Walgreens at 1601 North Milwaukee is next.”

On Sunday, the shelves were nearly empty at 7-Eleven, 1658 North Milwaukee, as staff prepared to move out of Wicker Park. | Provided

A CWBChicago sleuth who stopped by the store over the weekend found the shelves nearly empty as employees boxed up the remaining inventory.

One worker said the owner planned to reopen at a location in Jefferson Park. Why?

“Probably the theft. They steal a lot up in here,” the store clerk said.

Jensen told us that the staff told him theft was the reason for the store’s closure. He encouraged neighbors to pick up postcards from some local businesses and an alderman’s office to contact local leaders, especially Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Chief Judge Timothy Evans, about what’s happening.

“We cannot bear more empty storefronts,” Jensen said on Facebook.

In a crisp “how-to” guide, Jensen provided neighbors with some pointers for effective letter-writing.

“Be sure to describe your personal experience(s) while living in the neighborhood pertaining to your safety. If you are a business owner, explain how it’s affecting your business.”

Recommended talking points include encouraging Foxx and Evans to require “50+ hours of community service” for offenders under the age of 18.

“This is your performance review. We’re paying attention. Do better,” is the tone Jensen advised.

“Keep it short, simple, and to the point. No harsh or threatening language.”

Here’s his full campaign pitch:

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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