TV news crew robbed while reporting on Chicago robbery sprees; armed men targeted at least 30 people in about 12 hours

The gray Nissan was used in armed robbery sprees on Saturday afternoon and again on Sunday afternoon. | Provided

CHICAGO — The armed robbery problem has become so bad in Chicago that armed robbers this morning robbed a TV news crew doing a story about an armed robbery in West Town.

That unbelievable development came as at least 30 people were robbed or carjacked during sprees between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

And, no, Chicago police have not announced any arrests in connection with the latest crime waves.

A reporter and photojournalist were preparing to do a live shot about the latest robbery spree when a holdup crew rolled up to them in the 1200 block of North Milwaukee shortly before 5 a.m.

Without identifying the victims as a news crew, a Chicago police spokesperson confirmed that a 28-year-old man and a 42-year-old man were outside in the 1200 block of North Milwaukee when a black SUV and a gray sedan pulled up around 4:53 a.m. Three men got out of the vehicles wearing ski masks and displaying guns.

They took the victims’ personal belongings, went into their work vehicle, and stole the station’s camera, a source familiar with the crime confirmed, adding that the victims were working for Univision.

They are the second Chicago TV news unit to be robbed this month.

Earlier, a woman was carjacked on the same block. Police said three men got out of a blue sedan around 10:12 p.m. Sunday. One pointed a gun at her and took control of her white Ford Escape.

Sunday afternoon spree

A burst of robberies hit Wicker Park and Bucktown on Sunday afternoon. Based on the description of the offenders’ getaway car, a gray Nissan with heavily tinted windows, officers believed it was the same crew responsible for a similar crime spree on Saturday.

Sunday’s afternoon holdups began around 2:55 p.m. in the 1800 block of West Cortland. A CPD spokesperson said a 54-year-old man was parking in his garage when two robbers exited a gold Nissan Altima and took property from him and a 22-year-old woman in his car.

More incidents quickly followed:

  • Several masked men robbed a woman in the 400 block of North Carpenter around 4 p.m.
  • A group tried to rob a man in the 1300 block of North Wicker Park around 4:05 p.m. But witnesses intervened, and the offenders fled.
  • The crew tried to take a white SUV in the 1100 block of North Hermitage around 4:10 p.m. That effort also failed.
  • Another robbery attempt was reported near Bloomingdale and Winchester around 4:20 p.m. Officers who responded said they spoke with a neighborhood security patrol officer who saw a delivery driver get robbed, but the victim was gone when cops arrived.
  • The group apparently tried to carjack another vehicle in the 1600 block of West Chicago around 4:30 p.m. That attempt also failed, officers said.

As the robberies were unfolding, a Chicago police officer radioed that they saw the crew’s getaway car traveling on Damen near Wabansia around 4:12 p.m. But the cops also radioed that they were neither following nor pursuing the vehicle full of armed men.

Nighttime crime wave

The nighttime crime wave began around 9:45 p.m. in the 2200 block of West Hirsch. Police said a man and woman were robbed by two gunmen who exited a dark sedan with guns. The robbers repeatedly punched the male victim before escaping with the couple’s valuables.

Five minutes later, a 67-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman were robbed while walking in the 2000 block of North Hoyne. CPD said three men jumped out of a blue sedan with handguns and took their property. They punched the male victim before fleeing.

Moments later, the same crew battered a 35-year-old man who refused to give up his property in the 2100 block of North Hoyne, police said. He was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital for treatment. CPD said he was in good condition.

Around 10:31 p.m., two men robbed a 44-year-old woman and a 23-year-old woman at gunpoint in the 1300 block of West Randolph. The offenders kicked the younger woman when she refused to cooperate. She was taken to Rush Hospital.

A doorbell camera recorded this robbery in the 800 block of North Damen. The timer on the footage indicates that it occurred a little before midnight, but we could not immediately confirm that the time display is accurate:

In the 2100 block of West Ohio, a man was carjacked at gunpoint around 10:45 p.m. CPD said he was exiting his black SUV when a gunman walked up to his driver’s door with a handgun and took control of the vehicle.

About five minutes later, two armed men robbed a 33-year-old man in the 3000 block of North Lamon.

Lincoln Park in the crosshairs

After an hour-long break, robberies started popping up in Lincoln Park, each involving four or five Black males armed with guns and wearing dark clothing and ski masks: near Lincoln and Armitage around 11:40 p.m., followed by the 200 block of West Eugenie, the 2600 block of North Mildred, and near the 1600 block of North Mohawk.

In the Loop, a 24-year-old man was targeted around 12:27 a.m. today. Police said he was walking in the 600 block of South Wells when four men exited a dark sedan and told him not to move. He ran away.

That was followed by a robbery reported in the 1700 block of West Superior and another in the 1300 block of West Monroe.

Around the time the news team was robbed, more holdups were reported: the 1900 block of West Fulton around 4:40 a.m., followed by the 300 block of North Claremont.

A ‘concrete and collaborative plan’

It’s been more than a month since Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) promised his constituents that police had a “concrete and collaborative plan” to address the relentless robbery crews that had been victimizing residents of his ward and neighboring areas.

While police have had some successes, the robberies continue unabated.

Robbery reports are up 22% this year, according to CPD’s latest statistics report. But some areas, particularly Humboldt Park, West Town, and Logan Square, have been especially hard-hit.

In the Austin (25th) District, which includes the west side of Humboldt Park, robberies are up 107% this year. For the 28 days ending Monday, robberies were 322% higher than the same period last year.

The Shakespeare (14th) District, which includes the eastern part of Humboldt Park and Logan Square, West Town, Bucktown, Wicker Park, and parts of Avondale, is seeing a 49% increase in robberies this year. The last 28 days were 190% higher than last year.

Robberies are up 54% this year in CPD’s Near West (12th) District, which includes parts of West Town and the Near West Side, much of the West Loop, Fulton Market, and Pilsen.

Holdup sprees have been happening on an almost daily basis for months. Here is some of our more recent coverage:

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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