CHICAGO — An Uptown smoke shop owner says one of his employees is doing OK after being attacked by a group of young shoplifters last Friday. The robbery at 7 Heaven Smoke Shop, 4077 North Broadway, was one of several similar crimes reported at smoke shops in the area last weekend.
Two 15-year-old boys face robbery charges for allegedly participating in a Sunday afternoon raid on a Boystown smoke shop, Chicago police said.
The 7 Heaven incident was the first incident in the spree. About five young males entered the store around 7:45 p.m., loaded merchandise into bags, and battered the cashier when he confronted them, Chicago police said.
Video provided by the shop’s owner shows exactly what happened. The footage begins with the cashier speaking with two young men wearing hoodies and backpacks as another sits near the window and a fourth looks on from across the store. The fifth boy, standing closest to the camera, surveys the merchandise.
The cashier decides something is up and waves the group out of the store. They start to comply, shuffling toward the door, but turn around and head toward the merchandise. The one who was eyeing the merchandise near the surveillance camera hops onto a display case and starts grabbing products from the wall. Others run behind the counters and load products into their backpacks.
At the door, a scuffle breaks out as the thief wearing a red hoodie repeatedly punches the employee, who tries to grab some of the merchandise back. The group runs away, but the one in the red hoodie returns to throw one last punch at the employee’s head.
The store’s owner said the group returned on Saturday evening, but they left because the door was locked. Other stores in the area weren’t so lucky.
At around 6:30 p.m., a group of young males jumped the counter at Wrigley Smoke N Style, 3934 North Sheridan. They began stealing merchandise and threw a bottle at the store’s 38-year-old employee, who confronted them, police said.
The bottle cut the man’s face, and he was taken to Thorek Hospital for treatment, according to a CPD spokesperson.
An officer said the group consisted of Black males in their teens, with two wearing red hoodies and another in a tan long-sleeved shirt. They all carried backpacks, which they used to haul stolen merchandise.
The same group raided a convenience store next to the smoke shop and then continued north to the 4000 block of North Sheridan. There, they stole products and tried to steal the register at Roots Smoke & Vapor Shop, according to a CPD report.
On Sunday, about eight young males entered Halsted Smoke Shop, 3448 North Halsted, around 2 p.m. and one of them punched the store’s 24-year-old employee in the face multiple times, a CPD spokesperson said. After that, some members of the group displayed firearms as they all loaded merchandise into bags and backpacks.
Chicago police officers arrested two 15-year-old boys in the 3700 block of North Fremont and recovered some of the Halsted store’s merchandise. The rest of the crew escaped. Both boys are charged with felony robbery, and one is also charged with misdemeanor battery, according to the CPD spokesperson.