A group of shoplifters executed nearly-simultaneous raids on a pair of luxury boutiques on Oak Street yesterday evening, according to police. The offenders attacked and pepper-sprayed one store’s security guard, marking the second time in a week that theft crews have assaulted retail loss prevention officers.
First, a man entered Hermès, 25 East Oak Street, around 5:05 p.m., pepper-sprayed a security guard, and stole about $15,000 worth of travel bags, according to a police report reviewed by CWBChicago. The guard was not seriously injured.
Around the same time, two men walked into Prada, 30 East Oak Street, and fled with an undisclosed amount of merchandise, according to a separate CPD report.
All three suspects jumped into two vehicles, a black Nissan Maxima and a Volkswagen Passat, that fled the area.
Police did not release descriptions of the suspects, and some witnesses reported that up to five offenders might have been involved.
Earlier this month, Mayor Lori Lightfoot blamed downtown retailers for a seemingly endless string of mob-style shoplifting raids.
“I’m disappointed that they are not doing more to take safety and make it a priority,” Lightfoot said. “For example, we still have retailers that won’t institute plans like having security officers in their stores.”
Yet, many stores do have security, and guards at two stores have been physically attacked in the past week.
Last Wednesday, two females who stole merchandise from Nike, 669 North Michigan, and Zara, 700 North Michigan threatened employees at one store with a Taser and then deployed the device on a security guard at the other store. There was conflicting information about which store’s employee was tazed.
One of the thieves got away, but police arrested the 16-year-old as she fled from the second store. She is charged with two felony counts of armed robbery and felony aggravated battery of a merchant, according to a CPD media release.
In August, a security guard at Salvatore Ferragamo, 645 North Michigan, was critically wounded when a shoplifting mob knocked him to the floor during a raid.
Many retailers’ insurance policies expressly prohibit policyholders from having any armed employees or contractors on-site. Some specifically prohibit making physical efforts to stop thieves, too.