‘Polite’ serial armed robber, suspected of more than 20 crimes, may be in custody

A serial armed robber who police said may be responsible for more than 20 hold-ups on the North Side and Little Village since Thanksgiving week may be in custody, according to a source and details provided by prosecutors during a Christmas Eve bond court hearing for the suspect. Some of the robber’s many victims described him as “polite,” police said.

Just two hours after Chicago police issued a community alert on Tuesday afternoon to warn about the robber, a man walked into a mom ‘n’ pop convenience store on the 2400 block of South Christiana in Little Village, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Kyle Gruca.

Except for the man’s eyes, his entire face was covered by a hoodie, hat, and mask, Gruca said. And he was dressed in a distinctive red jacket with a bunny rabbit design on it and a similar design on his shirt, Gruca continued.

Clarence Anderson (inset) and surveillance images of a suspect in two of the North Side robberies. | CPD

He pulled out a handgun and went behind the counter to take lottery cash, rolls of coins, and money from the register. Then, he told the cashier not to call anyone as he walked out the door.

Gruca said that surveillance video confirmed the woman’s memory of a bunny rabbit design on the offender’s clothing. Chicago police officers reviewed CPD surveillance video from the area and spotted a car in the area that they linked to the robbery, according to Gruca.

The car, a rental, was leased to someone who is “associated with renting cars for the defendant in other incidents,” Gruca said. CPD’s community alert specifically said the serial robber had been using a variety of rental cars to travel during his robbery sprees.

Investigators found the suspicious car later Tuesday evening. Clarence Anderson, wearing the same clothing with the same bunny rabbit design as the robber, was in the driver’s seat, Gruca said.

“It’s not a bunny. It’s a teddy bear,” Anderson interjected after hearing about bunny rabbits for the fifth time during his court appearance.

Anderson, 39, is a seven-time convicted felon who was paroled in August after serving half of the 11-year sentence he received for his second robbery conviction.

Officers also found cash, rolls of change, a black ski mask, gloves, 30 grams of suspected cocaine, and 47 pills believed to be narcotics in Anderson’s car, Gruca said. A handgun was allegedly wedged in the car’s engine block.

So far, Anderson is only facing charges in connection with Tuesday’s robbery in Little Village. Judge David Navarro ordered him held without bail.

His previous felony convictions include aggravated robbery in 1999, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon in 2002, narcotics in 2004 and 2005, aggravated assault in 2011, aggravated battery of police officers in 2013, and armed robbery in 2016. He was paroled on August 12 in the latest case, according to state records.

Chicago police said the serial robber had robbed convenience stores and liquor stores as well as people on the street with heavy concentrations in Rogers Park and Little Village. CPD’s description of the suspect said he might have a tattoo on his neck. According to Illinois Department of Corrections records, Anderson has two tattoos on his neck that say “Lil Clarence” and “SELF MADE.”

Anderson’s public defender said he is engaged, has four children and three stepchildren, and works full time in a funeral home.

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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