Armed robberies plague South Side stores

By Rachel Brumbaugh

In the latest of a series of cell phone store robberies spanning nearly five months across four South Side neighborhoods, an armed robbery at a cell phone store on May 5 has prompted communities and law enforcement to keep on heightened alert.

Chicago Police Department (CPD) officials said the offenders in the most recent robbery are also suspects in several similar crimes.

“We believe the same offenders are responsible for as many as 11 armed robberies based on surveillance information,” said Marcel Bright of the Area One Violent Crimes News and Affairs Office.

Bright said in previous robberies the offenders have “either produced a gun or implied having one.”

There have been no reports of injuries stemming from the robberies, which have all occurred during store business hours, Bright said.

“They are taking cash, with some instances of product theft,” Bright said.

The pattern of robberies began in December 2005, said Commander Howard Lodding of District 21 Police Headquarters.

“What makes the case so difficult is that the robberies have occurred in so many different parts of the city,” Lodding said. “They have generally been on the South Side, but in different districts.”

To date, the offenders have struck in Englewood, Chicago Lawn, Deering, and Hyde Park/Kenwood.

Two of the robberies have occurred in Hyde Park. One took place at 1465 East Hyde Park Boulevard and the other at 5234 South Blackstone Avenue.

The East Hyde Park Boulevard robbery at M2 Communications was on February 11.

The Blackstone Avenue location, a Sprint store, was robbed at the end of February, said Arianne Venuso, a Sprint spokesperson. She declined to give further details, citing a corporate non-disclosure policy.

According to the latest community alert, one offender is a black man, 25 to 30 years old, between 5-foot-8 and 6-foot, 175-190 pounds, with black hair, brown eyes, and a medium complexion.

The other offender is a black man, 30 to 35 years old, between 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-10, 200-220 pounds, with a medium complexion. He is armed with a gun of unknown caliber.

“Stores should make sure they do have surveillance systems,” Bright said. “If merchants see suspicious activity or a customer who resembles the man, don’t resist and take notice to give a good description.”

Anyone with information is urged by the CPD to call the Area One Detective Division at (773) 757-8382.