Pickpockets ravaged Pride Fest and Pride Parade, with 31 thefts reported in one evening

CHICAGO — Pickpocket crews ran rampant during the annual Chicago Pride festivities in Boystown last month, police records show. At least 57 people reported having phones or wallets stolen while they attended the Pride Fest weekend or the annual Pride Parade.

On Saturday, June 22, alone, police reported an incredible 31 thefts within and immediately adjacent to Pride Fest. Even more astounding, police reported 25 of those 31 thefts in less than three hours, beginning around 7 p.m.

A CWBChicago reader was one of the unfortunate victims.

“I just bought a new one at the store and they said I was the 5th person coming in today with the same story,” the Pride Fest reveler told us last month. 

The thefts on that Saturday evening ground to a halt after Chicago police officers arrested a Florida man who allegedly stole a phone from a 42-year-old man in the 3700 block of North Halsted, records show.

Juan Pablo Giraldo Ruiz, 40, of Orland, reached into the man’s pocket, took the phone, and handed it off to an accomplice who got away, according to a CPD arrest report. Officers who searched Ruiz found “multiple credit cards that did not belong to [him]… and another cell phone,” the report said.

He was released from police custody after being charged with misdemeanor theft. 

The second day of Pride Fest saw only three reported phone and wallet thefts.

Another, smaller wave of thefts popped up on the Boystown nightlife strip early on June 29 and 30. We found seven total cases filed during those time periods. Six more cases were reported along the Halsted strip during and immediately after the Chicago Pride Parade. We found five more cases reported on Halsted that evening.

Organized theft crews, usually operated by people from out of state, have targeted Pride Fest, the Pride Parade, and other major events like Lollapalooza since at least 2019. However, this year’s Pride Fest tally exceeds what we’ve seen in other years.

The thieves love working dancefloors, crowded bars, and other tightly-packed areas where victims are less likely to be suspicious of random bumping and touching.

Police have arrested some crews in the past, most notably at Lollapalooza. Prosecutors eventually dropped most of the cases.

About Tim Hecke 374 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com