Chicago police are trying to track down an armed robbery and carjacking crew that has been working the city between Wicker Park and the Lower West Side over the past week. The team is hijacking drivers and robbing people at ATMs, often striking several times within an hour.
The group likely carried out five robberies between about 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to preliminary information from a Chicago police source. In each case, two or three men exited a gray or silver Mercedes to rob victims. Victims reported that one or two offenders had been armed with rifles or shotguns, with the rest carrying handguns.
Wednesday’s incidents began around 6:30 a.m. outside a currency exchange in the 100 block of North Western Avenue. A witness told police they saw four men exit a Mercedes to rob the victim, but the victim left the scene before Chicago police arrived.
Other hold-ups quickly followed, according to early information from a source:
- Four or five men robbed two victims sitting in a car in the 2400 block of West Erie around 6:30 a.m. The offenders made the victims unlock their phones and hand over their wallets and work bags.
- A few minutes later, they robbed a man at the Shell station, 1949 West Augusta, in West Town.
- At around 6:40 a.m., a 44-year-old man was robbed at the Bank of America ATM, 2332 West Cermak, according to police. The victim was leaving the bank when a blue or gray Mercedes pulled into the lot, and five robbers beat and robbed him.
A source familiar with the investigation said some investigators believe the crew is also responsible for committing three carjackings Sunday in the West Loop, Bucktown, and Logan Square. One of those victims was carjacked of a Mercedes, and some of the victims said the offenders displayed rifles and handguns.
On Friday, the same group robbed a woman as she left the same Bank of America where Wednesday’s robbery unfolded, according to a CPD report. The woman was walking out of the bank around 6:20 a.m. when four men arrived in a small white car, and at least one of them displayed a rifle to rob her, the report said.
At about 7:45 Friday morning, a woman was robbed by the same group while at the PNC Bank ATM, 2154 West Madison, another report said.
Later on Friday, the Chicago Police Department sent out a community alert to let people know about the pattern. CPD said the offenders had taken cars left running at gas stations or on the street. The group then used the stolen vehicles to commit armed robberies and carjackings on the street and in ATM vestibules.
The alert linked the crew to robberies at the following locations and times:
- the 1300 block of North Milwaukee, January 4 at 10:20 p.m.
- the 3200 block of South Harding, January 4 at 11:50 p.m.
- the 3500 block of South Ashland, January 5 at 2:46 a.m.
- the 2300 block of West Cermak, January 5 at 5:20 a.m.
- the 3400 block of South California, January 5 at 5:35 a.m.
- the 1200 block of South Campbell, January 5 at 5:50 a.m.
- the 2200 block of West Madison, January 5 at 5:52 a.m.
- the 2100 block of West Madison, January 6 at 7:47 a.m.
Chicago police said the crew had been traveling in more than one stolen vehicle and displayed rifles and handguns during the crimes. During last Thursday’s crimes, the group used three cars, and at least one victim said eight offenders confronted them, a police report said.
Last Friday, police said the group consisted of four or five Black males between the ages of 15 and 35 who wore ski masks and black clothing. However, some of Wednesday’s victims told police that they thought the robbers may have been Hispanic.
Area Five detectives are handling the investigation.