Man on probation for Chicago shoplifting raids tried to rob woman at gunpoint in suburbs: prosecutors

CHICAGO — You may remember Semaj Bryant. We wrote about him two years ago when prosecutors accused him of conducting shoplifting raids at North Face and Sephora stores in Chicago and selling the stolen merchandise at a Subway restaurant on the South Side.

And we wrote about him again a year ago after he resolved the case by pleading guilty to operating a continuing financial crime enterprise. Judge Aleksandra Gillespie gave him probation and ordered him to get a GED, complete drug treatment, submit to random drug testing, and pay $10,566 in restitution. 

Well, here we are, writing our third Semaj Bryant story.

Prosecutors say the 20-year-old, still on probation, and an accomplice tried to rob a woman at gunpoint in a Hoffman Estates subdivision this month. The pair got busted when cops saw the robbery in progress and interrupted them, officials said.

Since Bryant pleaded guilty last year, prosecutors have filed probation violation petitions against him four times: in May, August, October, and December. They told Judge Gillespie that he kept testing positive for marijuana and, at least once, ecstasy, court records show. He also failed an outpatient wellness program, one filing said.

Yet, late in the afternoon on February 16, Bryant and 18-year-old Devin Loving each armed themselves with a handgun, and they walked about a block from their home in the 1900 block of Haddam in Hoffman Estates, prosecutors allege.

Semaj Bryant (Cook County sheriff’s office, Google)

At the corner of Chelmsford Place and Governors Lane, the pair pulled their guns on a woman, and Loving began to physically struggle with her, according to a detention petition filed against the men.

Officers from the Hoffman Estates Police Department just happened to be driving down the block, and they intervened before the woman lost anything to the men.

Bryant was arrested at the scene in possession of a firearm, prosecutors said. He allegedly told the cops that he was “looking for someone to rob” and had just approached the victim when the officers pulled up.

He’s charged with attempted armed robbery.

Police said Loving ran and ditched a gun as he fled but didn’t get far. He is charged with attempted armed robbery and with committing another armed robbery of another victim in Hoffman Estates on Valentine’s Day.

Judge Ankur Srivastava detained both men as safety threats.

Prosecutors also filed their fifth probation violation petition against Bryant—for allegedly committing armed robbery.

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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