CPD warns of high theft rates in New Eastside

Officer Nicole Bryson speaks with residents during a CAPS meeting on Oct. 12th.

By Taylor Hartz

October 18, 2017

Crime levels are low in the New Eastside, but thefts are high.

According to Chicago Police Department officer Nicole Bryson, the CPD district that includes Millennium Park and Grant Park experiences higher rates of theft than other parts of the city. At a recent meeting of the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, or CAPS, officers gave residents of the first district tips for protecting themselves and their property.

Once a month, officers from CAPS meet with neighbors to discuss concerns of crime in the area. This month, the group met at 130 N. Garland Court on Oct. 12, with about seven residents in attendance.

Bryson told attendees that theft surpasses any other type of crime in the New Eastside area, mostly targeting tourists and retail stores. Although residents don’t have much to worry about when it comes to violent crime in the New Eastside, Bryson said they should always be on high alert for theft.

“We have more quality of life issues than violent crime in this district,” Bryson said, ”but this is the city of Chicago, you have to be aware of your surroundings.”

While instances of violent crime are few and far apart, Bryson said theft is almost constant.

“We see theft all day because of the way the district is structured,” said Bryson, “It’s a big area, popular, the place to be.”

The high theft rate has to do with the volume of stores, restaurants and other businesses, and the fact that “this was a business district first, then the residential came in,” said Bryson.

Lately, Bryson said the CPD has seen an increase in people walking by and swiping phones from tables at restaurants, coffee shops and bars. Bryson warned residents to never leave their phone unattended, even for a moment.

Another tactic that has become common in the area is theft of purses or bags that are placed beneath chairs, or hung from chair backs. Bryson said thieves will sneakily steal personal items when owners aren’t paying attention.This type of theft mostly affects tourists, but locals can fall victim too. Bryson said it’s important to be aware of your surroundings when dining or drinking out, even at familiar establishments.

On the street or when riding the CTA, the CPD warns that thieves will be on the lookout for your electronics. The department recently began circulating a warning ad that suggests that if you’re distracted by your phone, thieves see you as blindfolded, and an easy target.

One resident referenced the recent incident involving 23-year-old Victor Medina, who was robbed for his cellphone and backpack and thrown into Lake Michigan in late September. Medina was on a path behind Shedd Aquarium, in the 1200-block of South Lake Shore Drive when three men and two women robbed and beat him in the early morning hours.

Bryson said that while this was an isolated incident not often seen in the area, residents should take warning not to have items like cellphones and laptops out in clear view late at night, and to be cautious of being out alone late at night.   

While there are certainly precautions that residents can take to avoid having their property stolen, Bryson said the the majority of thefts target businesses, not individuals.

Shoplifting from area stores contributes a great deal to theft rates in and around New Eastside, as does a type of theft called “deceptive practice.” According to the Illinois General Assembly, deceptive practice occurs when an individual uses lies, false intentions or threats to keep another from property or payment. Bryson said these crimes most commonly involve incidents of not paying for a taxi ride, or leaving a restaurant without paying.

Bryson said the CPD is working with businesses to warn them of such thefts, and is collaborating with restaurants and bars to help lower the number of cell phone and purse thefts. Officers are asking business owners to keep an eye out for patrons who may be leaving property unattended and out of sight, and encouraging them to remind customers to stay aware of their surroundings.

CAPS meetings for the first district will resume resume a rotating schedule in November, with meeting locations alternating between 130 N. Garland Ave. and 400 E. Randolph St. The next meeting will be held at 400 E. Randolph St. at 6:30p.m. on Nov. 9th.

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