Thursday, January 17, 2019

Gunmen rob 4 North Side pedestrians of Canada Goose coats during morning rush hour


An armed robbery crew in a stolen Audi is targeting pedestrians who are wearing Canada Goose-brand winter coats in River North and Wicker Park, according to police reports. The robbers held up three victims within 15 minutes during the Thursday morning rush hour alone. The same group of offenders robbed two people in Hyde Park this week. Here’s what we know:

Locations of four North Side robberies connected to the crew.
Three people were held-up by the offenders between 7:50 a.m. and 8:05 a.m. on Thursday morning. All of the victims were robbed of their Canada Goose-brand winter coats and other items:
• At 7:50 a.m., a man was robbed at gunpoint by three men who took his coat near the intersection of Walton and Wells. The offenders climbed into the dark blue Audi A5 bearing license plate X562250 and sped south on Wells, then west on Chicago.
• Minutes later, another man reported that four offenders robbed him at gunpoint of his Canada Goose knock-off in the 600 block of West Chicago. Again, the offenders fled in the Audi, which was last seen going north on Larrabee.
• At 8 a.m., a witness reported seeing a blue Audi driving recklessly in the 800 block of West Division as passengers threw things from the car.
• At 8:05 a.m., a man was robbed at gunpoint outside of the LaSalle II School at Division and Wolcott by three men. They took his Canada Goose coat and a laptop bag. They then fled westbound on Augusta in the Audi, police said.
The same robbery crew is responsible for three robberies late Tuesday night and early Wednesday, according to a police department community alert and a police source. Those robberies were reported in the 5300 block of South Cornell at 10:39 p.m. on Tuesday; the first block of West Chestnut at 11:03 p.m. on Tuesday; and the 5100 block of South Harper at 12:35 a.m. on Wednesday.

In the robbery on West Chestnut, a 39-year-old man was robbed at gunpoint of his coat by two men who were armed with handguns. They fled in the same Audi that was used in Thursday’s robberies, according to a police source.

Today, police described the robbery offenders as two or three black men between 18- and 26-years-old who wear dark hoodies, dark jeans, and ski masks.

Anyone with information about the robberies may contact Area Central detectives at 312-747-8380.
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Serial bank robber busted after 3rd heist in 3 days

The robber at 230 West Grand | FBI
A man who robbed a River North bank on Monday and another River North bank on Tuesday was arrested Wednesday minutes after he robbed yet another bank in River North, according to the FBI.

Police responded to the Chase Bank at 230 West Grand at 12:37 p.m. yesterday after a worker called 911 from the employee break room to report a robbery in progress.

The robber handed a note to a teller that implied that he was armed and demanded money, according to police.

Knowing that the robber escaped via taxi on Tuesday, officers kept an eye out for cab passengers who matched the suspect’s description. The 18th District Commander, Daniel O’Shea, spotted the robber in the back of a taxi near Des Plaines and Grand. He and other officers pulled the cab over minutes later in Fulton Market. The suspect as detained, positively identified by bank workers, and then arrested.

Charges are pending against the man.

On Tuesday, the same offender robbed the Chase Bank at 1122 North Clark Street around 10:50 a.m. by handing a note to the teller in which he claimed to have a gun and a bomb.

And on Monday, the man robbed the Chase branch located at 755 North Larrabee around 4:30 p.m. by passing a similar note to a teller.

Loop Bank Robbed

Surveillance image of the robber at 10 S. Dearborn | FBI
About 30 minutes after yesterday’s bank robbery in River North, a different bank robber held up another Chase Bank branch at 10 South Dearborn in the Loop, according to the FBI.

The man passed a note to a teller in which he implied that he was armed, according to police. After getting an undetermined amount of cash, the man fled onto Madison Street.

Witnesses said the robber was male, black, about 50-years-old, 5’2” to 5’4” tall, 150 pounds, and had facial stubble. The man was wearing dark-colored pants, a black sweatshirt, and a tan coat that he discarded shortly after the hold-up.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading directly to the arrest of the robber. The bureau’s Chicago office may be reached at 312-421-6700.
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22-year-old parolee shot in Old Town


A 22-year-old man who’s on parole for narcotics was shot in the Old Town neighborhood Wednesday morning. No one is in custody.

Police responded to calls of a person shot in the 1300 block of North Hudson around 11:50 a.m. Officers found the victim nearby and transported him to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where he was listed in good condition.

According to a police department statement, the man was standing on the sidewalk when a gunman approached and fired shots. Shell casings were found in the 400 block of West Evergreen.

The gunman, described as a black male who was wearing a gray hoodie and light jeans, fled the area in a four-door silver vehicle that has a sunroof, according to police. The car was last seen heading south on Cleveland.

Chicago Police Department records show that the victim has been arrested nine times since 2015 and seven of those arrests took place within a block of the shooting location. His arrests have been for narcotics, trespassing, and gambling, but the outcomes of those cases were not immediately available.

According to state records, the victim was paroled in late October after serving part of three concurrent sentences for narcotics.
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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Here comes criminal case #64 for prolific Lakeview package thief

Errick Shambley | CPD; file
Habitual package thief Errick Shambley is now facing his 64th adult criminal case in Cook County and at least his third package theft case in under a year. Not bad for a guy who's "only" 49-years-old.

Most recently, Shambley was arrested in the 3200 block of North Sheffield after police recognized him as the person wanted in connection with December package thefts from the 2900 block of North Racine and the 1100 block of West Wolfram. He was also wanted in connection with the theft of three packages from a home in the 2900 block of North Halsted last August, police said.

Shambley is charged with two counts of felony theft and felony burglary in those cases. He was ordered held without bail.

Police records show that the packages he allegedly stole contained a garden thermometer and two pairs of earrings.

In September, Shambley was sentenced to 60 days in jail for stealing packages in the 2900 block of Halsted and the 3700 block of North Bosworth.

He was also arrested in the 800 block of West Buckingham for package theft last February. That case is still pending.

His most recent prison term was a two-year stint for stealing a woman’s purse and another person’s cell phone in 2016. His parole for the 2016 cases concluded about a week before his February arrest.
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DePaul student among latest robbery victims downtown, school says

A DePaul University student is among the latest robbery victims in the Loop and River North, according to an alert issued by the school’s Office of Public Safety.

The student was walking near DePaul's Loop Campus around 5:50 p.m. on Monday when three young men tried to sell him marijuana near the intersection of State and Adams, the school’s message said. When the student refused, one of the offenders displayed a knife and ordered him to drop his backpack. The student again refused to comply and was able to escape from the men, the school said.

No further description of the offenders was offered by DePaul.

• Two men robbed a CTA passenger on the Jackson Red Line platform around 2 p.m. on Saturday, according to a police report. The victim was waiting for a train when the two men battered him, took his wallet, and then jumped onto a departing train. According to the victim, the robbers were two black men in their 50’s who wore dark overcoats and hoodies.

• Police said a 30-year-old woman was attacked and robbed by a group of male teens in the first block of East Huron around 7:40 p.m. last Wednesday. Four offenders pushed the woman to the ground, took her handbag, then jumped into a black sedan that sped from the scene. The woman was treated and released from Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

FBI: Man robs 2 River North banks in 2 days

The FBI says a lone robber is responsible for holding up two River North banks in two days. No one is in custody.

Most recently, the man entered Chase Bank at 1122 North Clark Street around 10:50 a.m. on Tuesday and handed a note to the teller in which he claimed to have a gun and a bomb. The teller handed over cash, which the man stuffed into his blue Hanes-brand underwear, and ran away.

Luckily for him, an explosive dye pack was not hidden in the cash.

Police said the robber either went north on Clark or eastbound on Elm.

Yesterday, the same man handed a similar note to a manager at the Chase branch located at 755 North Larrabee around 4:30 p.m. He collected money and was last seen running eastbound on the south side Chicago Avenue after the robbery, police said.

According to the FBI’s official description, the offender is a white or Hispanic man who stands 6-feet to 6’3” tall and weighs 185 to 200 pounds. He wore a gray hoodie, a dark winter cap, a black ski mask, a black backpack, a camouflage winter jacket, and blue jeans during Monday’s robbery, the bureau said.

On Tuesday, the man wore similar clothing, but the bank teller described the robber as a black man with dreadlocks who is in his mid-20’s.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads directly to the suspect’s arrest. The bureau’s Chicago office may be reached at 312-421-6700.
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Monday, January 14, 2019

BREAKING: Dave & Buster’s nixes move to Water Tower


A proposal to move the Chicago location of Dave & Buster’s arcade-restaurant to a 42,000 square-foot space in the Water Tower Place shopping mall has been canceled, according to an email today from Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd).

Community opposition to the proposal was sharp during a public meeting on Dec. 18th. Local residents expressed concerns about how D&B and Water Tower would manage neighborhood impact of their plan serve to liquor until 2 a.m. to up to 1,500 patrons

“Based on the considerable opposition to the proposal I received from neighbors in Streeterville via phone, email, social media, and in person, I have informed Dave & Buster’s that I cannot support their intention,” to move to the iconic mall at 835 North Michigan, Hopkins wrote.

An attorney for D&B said at the December meeting that the company had already signed a lease to take over the west half of Water Tower’s fourth floor. But those plans appear dead in the wake of Hopkins’ announcement.

“As was stated during that community hearing, no application for this proposal was ever submitted to the city or to my office,” Hopkins said. “Dave & Buster’s confirms that they will not proceed with any application to relocate to Water Tower Place.”

Late last week, CWBChicago approached Hopkins and the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) to confirm information from a source that the D&B project had been scuttled. Hopkins did not respond, but SOAR president Deborah Gershbein said in an email that her group had not been informed of any plans to cancel the project.

“SOAR will be publishing an official statement concerning Dave and Busters next week after the SOAR Board of Directors meeting,” Gershbein said in an email on Friday afternoon. “Our number one concern is about the safety and well being of residents and visitors to Streeterville.  We have looked at the situation carefully and spoken with many residents and community stakeholders.  Our position will reflect the input that we have received from both.”

It was not immediately clear if D&B will continue operations at 1035 North Clark Street, where the Chicago outlet has been located since the 1990's. An attorney for the company said at the December community meeting that the company's lease was up at the Clark Street location. He did not respond to questions about whether the company had been offered a lease renewal at the Clark Street property.

Previous coverage

Streeterville: Plan to move Dave & Buster's to Water Tower Place is focus of Tuesday meeting
Water Tower, Dave & Buster's have already signed a lease, audience told at fiery meeting: "It's become thugland!"
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Three charged with robbing DePaul student

Left to right: Deaaron Jackson, Tarkia Gilmore, and Lasam Davis | Chicago Police Dept
UPDATE 7:10AM — Chicago police have now issued a third version of events.

According to a press release issued at 6:59 a.m., the DePaul student went to the 4200 block of West Wilcox last Tuesday to meet with Tarika Gilmore. During their meeting, the 19-year-old student was robbed by Gilmore and the other two offenders, police now say. Some of the victim’s property was found by police on Friday after police went to investigate a light that was on inside an abandoned home.

According to this latest version of events, the robbery occurred in the 4200 block of West Wilcox, not in the 900 block of West Montana.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Exclusive: Thousands of narcotics defendants freed by slow crime lab work


Thousands of people who were charged with narcotics crimes in Chicago last year escaped prosecution because the Illinois State Police (ISP) Crime Lab failed to return forensic tests of suspected drugs on time, an investigation by CWBChicago has found.

During one court session in Skokie last Thursday morning, lab results had not been returned for seventeen drug cases involving sixteen defendants. And there are no indications that the state lab will be correcting the timeliness problem any time soon.

“No Labs”

The clock starts ticking when police take a suspected narcotics offender into custody.

Prosecutors have 30 days to present laboratory proof of the weight and chemical make-up of substances that are the basis for narcotics charges. The deadline is 60 days if the defendant is not held in custody, said Jennifer Coleman, head of the narcotics bureau in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

In Chicago, suspected narcotics are sent to the ISP Forensic Science Center in Little Italy for testing.

The lab results are needed at a defendant’s probable cause hearing, which is usually scheduled for a couple of weeks after their arrest. If the results are not back for the hearing, the case will likely be dropped by the state.

“There is no extension unless [the court has] a date within the [legal] timeframe,” Coleman said.

Cook County prosecutors have seen a “slow, steady uptick” in so-called no-labs over the past year, according to Coleman. “It’s increasing. It’s definitely gone up.”

Lack of timely lab results forced prosecutors to drop 3,454 narcotics cases in Chicago between Jan. 1st and Nov. 30th last year, Coleman said.

After dismissal, the state still has the option to seek an indictment from a grand jury “if it’s appropriate,” Coleman said. But such action is rare. For the vast majority of thousands of narcotics defendants last year, dismissal due to “no labs” was a free pass that put them back on the streets without consequences.

What’s driving the increase in “no labs?” The ISP wouldn’t say. But sources within the criminal justice system pointed to an obvious problem: The number of “drug chemistry scientists” assigned to the Chicago crime lab plummeted from 45 in March 2017 to 38 just three months later. Since then, not one new drug scientist has been added to the laboratory, according to ISP documents. At the end of September last year, 36 scientists remained in the drug testing unit.

And the remaining scientists are being slowed by a time-consuming new report procedure, according to a source.

Coleman, the head of Cook County’s narcotics prosecution team, said her office notifies the ISP lab when a high-priority case comes along so lab results can be expedited. “They’ve been easy to work with on that,” she said.

“Winners”

The 20th (Lincoln) Police District was so proud of a narcotics bust by one of its tactical units last month, the officers tweeted a photo of the cash and drugs that they seized.
“2063 Team makes a key traffic stop this weekend of a known criminal street gang member on 1100 N blk of Winona, offender charged with this tan heroin, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines packaged for sales, plus nearly 1K cash in what appears to be proceeds.”
Suspect narcotics and cash that police said they recovered from James Burrell's car. | CPD
Police inventory records show the officers recovered six bags of suspected heroin from the car’s floorboard, 25 ecstasy pills, 21 amphetamine pills, 21 bags of crack from the suspect’s pants pocket, and eleven more bags of crack from a jacket in the car.

Prosecutors charged 33-year-old James Burrell with felony possession of heroin; two counts of felony possession of crack cocaine; felony possession of ecstasy; and felony possession of amphetamine. Judge John Lyke set bail at $10,000.

On Jan. 3rd, the state was forced to drop all charges because the lab results had not come back in time for two separate probable cause hearings in the case. Burrell went free.

A 49-year-old West Side man had a similar experience last Thursday morning in the Skokie courthouse.

Tony Johnson had been in custody since Dec. 12th, charged with soliciting unlawful business and manufacture-delivery of heroin in one case and narcotics possession in a second case.

Johnson, joked the assistant state’s attorney, “is a winner on both of them.” The state labs had not come back, and all charges were dropped.

Of the seventeen drug cases that were missing lab results in Skokie court last Thursday morning, nine cases were dropped, and eight were continued for later this month. If ISP lab results aren’t available by the second appearance, those defendants will also “win.”

“Who’s ready for some no labs?”

Frequently stuck in the middle of the laboratory report problem are the Chicago cops who make narcotics arrests. The officers are required to show up to testify in a probable cause hearing. But if the lab results aren’t ready, they are sent home.

At 9 a.m. last Thursday, about ten cops—mostly from Chicago—sat in the jury box of Courtroom 105 in Skokie. A couple of minutes later, county prosecutors walked into court together, led by a man who pushed a plastic cart filled with manilla case files.

“OK,” he said, bringing the cart to a stop in front of the jury box. “Who’s ready for some no-labs?”

One-by-one the officers who were there for narcotics cases were all sent home. More officers arrived for the second court call at 10:30 a.m. They were also sent on their way.

Chicago police directives instruct the city’s cops to check an electronic database for the status of lab results in their court cases. It’s their responsibility to “determine the status of the analysis” if the lab results are not available four days before court.

Like other county courthouses, the Skokie branch has a phone line that officers can call on the day of their scheduled appearance to check on the status of a case. But, according to a source, the Skokie phone line does not begin operating until 8:30 a.m., an hour later than other branches. “That’s not enough time if you’re due in court at 9 o’clock,” the source said.

And officers surely don’t want to make the mistake of not being at the hearing if the lab results just happened to arrive on time.

Chicago cops who fail to appear in court “are subject to Summary Punishment,” according to the department’s directives. “The penalty is based upon the affected member’s summary punishment history and complimentary history for the twelve months preceding the date of the current transgression," a police spokesman said.

“Oh, thank you!”

Toward the end of Thursday’s three-hour court call in Skokie, deputies led a prisoner into court from a secure back room. The prosecutor, public defender, and Judge Anjana Hansen quickly went through the same routine they had already performed for nearly a dozen other defendants that morning.

“This,” the prosecutor said, “is a second-time no-lab.”

“Motion state?”

“Dismissed.”

It all happened so quickly, the defendant had to ask what happened.

“Your case is dismissed,” the public defender told him.

“Oh, thank you!” the suddenly-freed man said as deputies led him back to the lock-up.

Returning to his post next to the public defender, a deputy cracked a smile and joked, "what's he thanking you for?
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Boystown: First street robbery of 2019 follows year of record-low mugging reports


Police are investigating the first street robbery to be reported in Wrigleyville and Boystown this year.

A man told police that he was robbed of about $150 cash near the intersection of Halsted and Roscoe around 3 a.m. The victim chased the two offenders and saw them enter Scarlet nightclub after the robbery, according to a police report. Both robbers then fled through the bar’s rear door, the report said.

The victim told police that the robbers were a white female who wore a black coat and a black male. The man is in his mid-20’s, stands about 6’2” tall, and wore a black winter cap.

Record Lows

A near-record low number of robbery reports were filed in Wrigleyville and Boystown in 2018, according to city data and analysis by CWBChicago.

CWBChicago records indicate that there were 129 robberies in the two neighborhoods last year. Official records show 127 robberies. The discrepancy is due to the fact that Chicago police consider violent home invasion in which the homeowner is physically attacked and robbed to be “burglaries” whereas CWBChicago classifies those incidents as “robberies.”

The previous low water mark for robberies in the area came in 2015 when 128 cases were recorded. The 2015 low was the result of intense anti-robbery efforts that were undertaken following several years of record-high street robberies.

Below is a grid showing month-by-month robbery statistics for Wrigleyville and Boystown since January 2001, the earliest date for which records are publicly available. The grid is followed by a list of all robberies in the neighborhood during 2018 with links to CWBChicago coverage, where available.