A series of burglaries occurring between the end of October and the beginning of January have targeted a number of local businesses in the Kenwood-Hyde Park area, according to the South East Chicago Commission, a non-profit organization that charts community crime. Since late October, 19 local businesses were entered by force through their front or rear doors, with the highest activity occurring in the 53rd and 55th Street shopping districts
A press release from the Commission listed the offenders at one particular robbery on 53rd Street as black males of medium height and between 40 and 53 years old. "[These descriptions] in no way imply that the offenders were identical in each incident," said Bob Richards, law enforcement director of the Commission.
Richards said he examines crime reports that extend over various time periods and tries to piece together patterns. "The Commission has been in existence for several years," he explained. "As law enforcement coordinator, I look at reports of crime on a daily basis. When I see something that looks like a pattern, I'll report on it."
Pockets, restaurant on 53rd Street, was robbed twice during the holiday season. "The first time they just took the security camera," said Javier Agudo, the manager of Pockets. "The second time they broke a window and took a lot of money."
Over a thousand dollars was stolen from Pockets during the second robbery and Agudo said the burglaries had a large effect on business. "The store was going well up to that point, and they ran off with all the bonuses," he said. "Now we don't leave anything in the store after closing time."
In addition to emptying the cash register before the day's end, Pockets recently installed a number of new video cameras in the store. "Since we've installed video cameras, [the burglars] haven't come back," Agudo said.
The string of burglaries also hit City Cleaners on Hyde Park Boulevard, although damages paled in comparison to Pockets. The burglars broke a window and made away with an antique bubble gum machine.
"Apparently they did it to get the quarters out," said the owner, who requested to not be identified. "This is the first time I've had someone break into the store in the last five years."
According to the owner, the burglary had essentially no effect on business.
"All of the customers' clothes were saved, so as far as that goes there was no real danger," he said. "The police responded to the situation extremely fast. They showed up even before I did."
The Commission has also recently detected an ongoing crime series on 61st Street, just south of the Midway. Since December 26, an offender has gained or attempted to gain entry to nine apartments by prying open front or rear doors.
According to the Commission, the offender in one attempted burglary was seen and described as a black male with a medium build and complexion. He was approximately 28 years old, 5'8'', and weighed 160-180 pounds. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a blue Avirex jacket, gray jeans, and a blue hooded sweatshirt.
Richards said the Commission is continuing to work closely with both the University and Chicago Police Departments to find the offenders of both crime patterns.