Downtown robbery spike may involve two hold-up crews

Detectives have linked a Friday evening armed robbery in Streeterville to an ongoing pattern of similar crimes this month in the downtown area and River North. But at least two other armed robberies that occurred downtown around the same time and a fourth that occurred in Streeterville early Friday appear to be the work of a second group, according to a CPD source.

In an updated community alert, Area Three detectives said a crew they warned about earlier in the week robbed a 36-year-old woman on the 600 block of North St. Clair around 9:14 p.m. Friday.

Two men pulled her purse away and fled in a black Nissan sedan that was driven by a third man, said Officer Alex Aguas, a CPD spokesperson.

The same crew committed at least three other armed robberies, according to police. Each time, between one and four offenders wearing ski masks took the victim’s valuables at gunpoint and fled in a black vehicle:

  • Four masked men confronted a man with handguns on the 500 block of North Franklin around 12:45 a.m. April 11.
  • On April 9, a three men forced a 28-year-old man to withdraw money from an ATM at Fifth Third Bank, 33 West Huron, around 1 a.m.
  • A masked man displayed a gun and took purses and wallets from victims at the BP service station, 1647 North LaSalle, around 10:30 p.m. Friday, April 8.

According to the alert, the suspects are Black males between 20- and 40-years-old who stand 5’10” to 6’2″ tall. Anyone with information about the crimes can contact Area Three detectives at 312-744-8263.

Other robberies

At least three other armed robberies reported Friday in the downtown area have involved armed men who traveled in a silver or gray SUV, possibly a Buick:

  • Two men confronted a woman with a handgun and took her purse near Ohio and Fairbanks around 2 a.m. The robbers were wearing ski masks and escaped in a gray Buick SUV, according to a CPD report.
  • Around 9:20 p.m., three men robbed a 24-year-old woman at gunpoint as she walked on the 300 block of West Walton, a CPD spokesperson said. They took her purse and fled in a gray SUV.
  • Four robbers confronted 29-year-old man as he walked on the 300 block of South State around 10 p.m. The crew robbed him at gunpoint and escaped in a silver SUV.
  • Police also received calls from at least two other robbery victims in the Loop around the same time. But the local police district did not have any patrol units to handle the calls, according to dispatch records. Officers dispatched over 30 minutes after the initial reports could not find victims.

Because Friday evening’s robberies occurred around the same time but involved two different crews, some cops who work downtown suspect the teams may work together. “Flash mob robbery crews” wreaked havoc on the North Side late last year, committing several dozen hold-ups before police disbanded the operation.

Beginning in November, cars loaded with sometimes-armed people drove to Wicker Park, Bucktown, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and other neighborhoods to carry out street robbery sprees, according to police sources. The teams targeted people on the street and even robbed groups of people that were walking together.

The “flash mob” technique overwhelms local police districts with calls of service during a short period. And, because the teams use different cars, conflicting descriptions of getaway cars and suspects can hamper CPD’s response.

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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