12% of Chicago’s shoplifting arrests last year were made at one downtown store: CPD data

CHICAGO — The New York Times reported over the weekend that nearly a third of all shoplifting arrests in the Big Apple last year involved just 327 people. So, CWBChicago decided to see how that compares to our fair city.

Believe it or not, we found virtually identical results: One-third of shoplifting arrests in Chicago last year involved 195 people who were arrested at least twice for retail theft in 2022.

A sign inside a Walmart restroom warns against shoplifting. | Mike Mozart/Flickr

But the thing that we found really interesting is this: of the 1,499 shoplifting arrests in Chicago last year, 12% of them were made at Macy’s on State Street.

We pulled our data from the Chicago Police Department’s arrest database. It’s possible that some of the names in the database are aliases used by repeat arrestees, but there’s no way to identify them from the details CPD provides publicly.

While New York City statistics show that their top shoplifters were arrested an average of 18.34 times, the average repeat offender in Chicago had only 2.54 arrests. And the person arrested most often for shoplifting in Chicago last year, 38-year-old Demarcus O’Conner, was taken into custody “just” eight times. He was arrested on shoplifting allegations again in January 2023, but that doesn’t count since we’re only looking at arrests made last year. The outcomes of the allegations filed against O’Conner were not immediately available.

But the data indicates that shoplifting arrests in the city were made at a little more than 500 stores, and nearly one-third of the city’s retail theft arrests occurred in just nine stores, with the Macy’s flagship at 111 North State Street leading the way.

In fact, the Macy’s store on State Street had about as many arrests as the entire Jewel-Osco chain, the police records show. The city’s Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack outlets combined for the third-most arrests among companies.

For companywide calculations, we did not include any addresses with fewer than four arrests, so the actual totals may vary slightly from what you see above.

The tallies for individual stores and chains suggest that some stores are taking a hands-on approach to shoplifters, fighting above their weight. Like Nordstrom, a company with relatively few locations but high arrest totals.

On the other hand, the numbers suggest other companies with many more locations are taking more passive approaches to the problem.

So, what about Walmart? The nation’s biggest retailer made waves last week when it announced plans to close four of its Chicago locations. But the company denied that crime and theft were “major drivers” in its decision.

For what it’s worth, CPD’s data shows five Walmart locations in Chicago had more than three shoplifting arrests last year. Two of them are closing. The other two stores that are closing, 4720 South Cottage Grove and 2844 North Broadway, had three arrests and one arrest respectively.

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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