Burglar shot during a Lincoln Square smoke shop break-in is responsible for 4 other burglaries, too: prosecutors

CHICAGO — An 18-year-old man who was shot by a business owner while burglarizing a Lincoln Square smoke shop this week is responsible for four other break-ins in the neighborhood, prosecutors said.

Antonio Mendoza, charged with three counts of burglary and two counts of identity theft, was ordered held in lieu of a $5,000 bail deposit by Judge David Kelly during a bond hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Chicago police officers found Mendoza with gunshot wounds to both of his legs after responding to calls of a person shot in the 4700 block of North Talman around 11:45 p.m. Sunday.

Antonio Mendoza | Chicago Police Department

Cops quickly linked Mendoza to an incident that unfolded minutes earlier at Big Lou’s Tobacco Shop, 2617 West Lawrence. Prosecutors said barking dogs alerted the business owner to activity behind the business. He pulled up Nest security camera footage that showed Mendoza trying to force his way through the shop’s back door with a crowbar, Assistant State’s Attorney Sarah Dale-Schmidt said.

Mendoza went on to rummage through the victim’s vehicle before the business owner fetched a handgun and shot him in the legs, according to Dale-Schmidt. She said Mendoza fled to the Rockwell Brown Line station, where a witness called 911.

Police found a black mask, a backpack, and a crossbody bag that contained a firearm, screwdrivers, a crowbar, and a black coat in an alley behind Big Lou’s, Dale-Schmidt said. Mendoza is not charged with possessing the gun.

Detectives linked Mendoza to a series of burglaries in the area since January, including one that occurred “16 feet” from Big Lou’s, according to Dale-Schmidt:

  • On January 2, a woman left her car unlocked while loading the vehicle in the 2600 block of West Lawrence, only to discover that someone stole her purse and wallet while the vehicle was unattended. Dale-Schmidt said surveillance video from a nearby Popeye’s showed Mendoza using the woman’s credit card to make a purchase.
  • On January 14, a burglar stole cash from a laundromat’s management office in the 5100 block of North Lincoln. Mendoza was identified as the burglar from the surveillance video.
  • On March 13, someone broke into a man’s home in the 2700 block of West Gunnison and stole the victim’s wallet. Dale-Schmidt said surveillance footage showed Mendoza using the man’s credit cards to make same-day purchases at Walgreens, CVS, and Exxon.
  • Early on March 16, Mendoza allegedly took cash during a burglary of Nhu Lan Bakery, 2612 West Lawrence.

Mendoza was adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile for burglary twice in 2022. He must go on electronic monitoring if he posts bail.

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