February 1, 2011

Robberies prompt community alert

In response to a series of armed robberies at local businesses between East 47th and 55th Streets and South Drexel and Dorchester Avenues this month, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) issued a community alert to Hyde Park residents on Friday. CPD believe the robberies are unrelated to recent armed robberies of students.

Students were not alerted about the robberies through the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) because the off-campus crimes CPD is investigating have not involved students, according to UCPD spokesperson Bob Mason.

The most recent robbery occurred on January 22, when two armed, unmasked men walked into Windy’s Deli on East 53rd Street and demanded that two clerks empty the cash register. Art Chotipradit, one of the clerks, said he gave the men between $200 and $300. Chotipradit said it was the third time the deli had been robbed in the last seven years.

“It happens so quick. It was like stealing candy from a baby,” said Chotipradit, who also noted that there was a CPD patrol car parked across the street from his store while he was robbed.

According to Sergeant Gregory Jackson, a detective in CPD’s Property Crimes Unit, police are searching for various assailants, 18-25 years old, average height and build. Jackson would not say the exact number of robberies that had taken place to prompt the community alert, though the Sun-Times connected it to at least 12 people being robbed at gunpoint in an article Saturday.

Chotipradit said that while he had noticed an increased police presence around Windy’s Deli recently, he was skeptical that police would be able to prevent future robberies.

“Robberies around here are like Christmas,” he said. “You can always expect them to come around at least once a year.”