Another night of armed robberies and Chicago cops are again ordered *not* to chase the offenders

CHICAGO — Well, the sun came up again today, so that means we have to publish yet another story about the seemingly endless string of nightly armed robberies in Chicago.

Once again, Chicago police officers radioed that they had located the robbers driving around the area. And, once again, Chicago police supervisors ordered the cops to terminate efforts to pull the robbers over.

So, we’ll probably be writing another story like this one tomorrow.

As was the case in the over 100 armed robberies we’ve told you about recently, last night’s spree involved armed men who jumped out of a stolen Kia to rob people at gunpoint on the street. And, once again, the robberies were centered in West Town, up to Logan Square.

The robberies began around 11:35 p.m. Tuesday in the 1500 block of West Monroe. Two people were robbed there.

Just before midnight, four men stepped out of the black Kia SUV and tried to rob a man in the 1700 block of West Carroll. They pushed him, pistol-whipped him, and drove away without getting anything.

Moments later, the group robbed a 20-year-old man a few blocks away in the 700 block of North Ashland.

The victim was sitting in a rideshare vehicle when three offenders walked up to the car, and one of them climbed inside, according to a CPD report. After taking the man’s valuables and cash, the group fled in a black Kia. Police said the victim did not notice any weapons.

Next stop: The 1400 block of West Blackhawk. They tried to rob a man there shortly after midnight, a Chicago police report said. But he didn’t have anything worth stealing, so they left empty-handed.

Another man was robbed near Cortez and Wood in Ukrainian Village. He told police that four armed men forced him to surrender his phone password, then escaped in a black car.

CPD officers told dispatchers they spotted the robbers’ car in the 2000 block of West Division in Wicker Park around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The approximate locations of the latest robberies. | Multiplotter

But the police department’s helicopter was not in service last night. Supervisors in CPD’s Shakespeare (14th) and the neighboring Near West (12th) Districts ordered their units to refrain from engaging with the vehicle. And the crew got away.

Near West’s robberies are up 50% this year. Last week, the district had 26 robberies, up 100% from the same week last year. In the 28 days ending July 30, the district had 94 robberies, up 77% from 2022.

Shakespeare had 12 robberies last week, up 50% from the same week last year. For the 28 days ending July 30, there were 56 cases, up 60% from the same period in 2022.

Both districts have been slammed with armed robberies day after day for weeks, even after the Illinois State Police engaged one group in a pursuit, resulting in four arrests. Earlier in July, a career-risking CPD supervisor granted officers under his command to chase a group of robbers. The crew was captured and prosecutors charged one of them with robbery.

Last month, Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) assured residents that Chicago police had a “concrete and collaborative plan” to address the ongoing robbery problem, even as police say just one of the roving bands of criminals may be responsible for more than 60 holdups.

It’s unclear how failing to have an operating helicopter and ordering cops not to engage carloads of armed robbers when they see one factor into the plan.

The Chicago Police Department introduced a new vehicle pursuit policy in August 2020. That order provides officers with 11 pages of instructions that they must consider when deciding if a vehicle should be pursued.

The order specifically prohibits Chicago officers from pursuing anyone for a traffic offense other than DUI. And it states explicitly that CPD will not discipline any member for ending a motor vehicle pursuit. If they continue a pursuit, though, they’ll be held responsible for anything that goes wrong.

Chicago has paid out tens of millions of dollars for lives lost and injuries caused by pursuits that ended with crashes. CPD supervisors have become so skittish about the possibility of something going wrong, they’ve ordered cops to stop pursuing a car suspected of carrying wanted murderers.

In observance of the policy, cops downtown decided not to pursue a stolen BMW wanted for a series of armed robberies last May. Within an hour of that decision, men who emerged from the BMW shot and robbed Dakotah Earley in Lincoln Park.

But state police troopers are given more leeway and often take the lead when cops spot a hijacked car in traffic, or someone wanted for another serious crime.

The city’s two helicopters, which it shares with the sheriff’s office, are frequently down for maintenance or due to weather, giving many offenders a chance to drive away and avoid arrest.

That could be changing soon. Late last year, the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved money to buy a helicopter for the sheriff’s office. And the Chicago City Council approved funding for two new CPD helicopters.

If everything goes as planned, the new sheriff’s office helicopter should be operational by late summer or early fall.

Even after the new equipment is in place, the number of air units patrolling the city and county will pale in comparison to the Los Angeles area, which has 35 police helicopters, and the New York City Police Department, which is increasing its fleet from seven to nine, according to the Cook County sheriff’s office.

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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