Police are investigating at least three armed street robberies and two carjackings reported Saturday in River North and another street robbery in the West Loop.
The crimes are part of a citywide increase in robberies that began a few months ago and appears to be accelerating.
In its just-released press release about 2021 crime statistics, the Chicago Police Department boasted that the city “saw the second fewest robberies on record.” The department did not mention that it managed to squander huge reductions in robberies that were seen earlier in the year.
At the end of June, robberies in the 18th district, including River North, were down 26% year-over-year. By the end of September, robberies were only down 1%. And, as of December 26, robberies were up — up, not down — 22% compared to last year.
Citywide robbery reports were down 6% year-over-year at the end of June. The stat improved slightly to being down 7% by the end of September. Yet, by December 26, the year-over-year improvement had been completely erased, with 21 more robberies reported than last year.
Of course, robbery reports are likely increasing in part because more people are out of their homes following COVID. But life outside the house is not even close to being where it was before the pandemic, and the acceleration in hold-ups is something to keep an eye on heading into 2022.
In Saturday’s carjackings:
A woman was hijacked at the Circle K gas station, 350 West Chicago Avenue, around 3:15 a.m., The woman reported that a man displayed a gun and took her black Ford Fusion G4 with Indiana plates. Police tracked the stolen car as it headed south on Lake Shore Drive, through the Loop, and onto the outbound Dan Ryan Expressway. No arrests have been announced.
At about 5:30 a.m., a man staying at a hotel on the 100 block of West Huron called 911 after a gunman took his Cadillac sedan while he was stopped at a nearby red light. According to dispatch records, no police officers were available to take the man’s call, and no officers responded to the scene for more than 90 minutes.
The first street robbery unfolded around 3:30 a.m. on the 400 block of North Clark when a man was robbed of his wallet by an offender who threatened him with a knife.
Then, a gunman robbed two people within minutes outside a River North CVS location.
At 12:45 p.m., a 39-year-old woman was walking on the 200 block of West Huron when the robber ordered her to hand over her phone and wallet, Officer Hector Alfaro said. At about the same time, another woman was robbed of her wallet near the same intersection.
The suspect is described as a tall Black male in his early- to mid-20s who wore a black sweater or coat with dark jeans.
In the West Loop incident, a gunman jumped out of an older, black Nissan Altima to rob a man who was walking to Starbucks on the 900 block of West Randolph around 7:45 a.m., according to a CPD report. The victim was not injured, but the robber took his coat and phone.
The suspect in that case is a Black male who wore a black hoodie with writing on the back. He was accompanied by a driver, but no description was available for that man.