Arrests of Venezuelans has surged 2,538% since Chicago’s migrant crisis began

CHICAGO — The number of Venzuelan-born people arrested by Chicago police this year is up 2,538% compared to 2022, according to data provided by the police department. It’s up 11,333% compared to 2021.

As of November 12, CPD arrested 686 people this year who listed Venezuela as their birthplace, according to data provided by the department in response to our Freedom of Information Act request. That compares to 26 for all of last year and just six in 2021.

Since this year’s tally only includes arrests through November 12, while 2022 and 2021 are full-year numbers, the disparities will increase through December.

A photo taken in August 2023 shows dozens of migrants living in the lobby of the Near West (12th) District Chicago police station. | @CPD1617Scanner

Of course, the reason for the increase is the arrival of more than 21,000 migrants, mainly from Venezuela. Those arrivals started slowly late last year and skyrocketed this summer and fall.

While a handful of Venezuelan-born arrestees are accused of serious crimes like shooting another migrant, robbing a Divvy employee, and stabbing someone in a dispute over bathroom cleanliness, most of the allegations are more mundane.

Shoplifting is among the top charges filed against Venezuelan-born people in Chicago this year. And the most frequent location we found for Venzuelan-born folks to be arrested is the Macy’s flagship store in the Loop.

That makes sense. We previously reported that the 111 North State location generated 12% of all shoplifting arrests in Chicago last year.

Since then, the city has opened a migrant shelter just a few blocks away at the Standard Club, 320 South Plymouth Court. The result? Of the 266 people we found who’ve been arrested for shoplifting at Macy’s this year, at least 50 are of Venezuelan origin.

One migrant was accused of trying to shoplift $3,100 worth of goods from Macy’s in June, but most of the arrests involved much smaller amounts.

Nordstrom Rack, located a couple of blocks south of Macy’s, had 102 shoplifting arrests through last Friday, according to a CPD arrest database. At least 38 of the arrestees were Venezuelan-born. Like Macy’s, the Nordstrom Rack location at 24 North State was among the city’s top spots for retail theft arrests in 2022, even before the migrant crisis began.

In fairness, one Venezuelan is running up the numbers a bit. He’s managed to get arrested at Macy’s and Nordstrom Rack.

Yefri Solorzano was accused of trying to carry away four clothing items worth $354 from Macy’s in August, but prosecutors dropped the case in October.

Last Wednesday, he got arrested at Nordstrom Rack. Store security officers told police they saw him take a suitcase from a display and stuff it with clothing and shoes as he walked the aisles. A CPD arrest report said Nordstrom Rack staff stopped him as he tried to walk out with all the merchandise, valued at $1,139. Prosecutors approved felony charges in that case.

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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