On the mean streets
12/11/2012 8:10 PM
Law-abiding citizens aren’t the only Chicagoans shopping for the holidays. Criminals have their own unique style of “shopping” – they prey on unsuspecting victims. That was the message offered by officer Paris Edwards of the Chicago Police Department’s 12th district at tonight’s Beat 1212 community meeting.
“The best thing you can do is be vigilant yourselves,” Edwards said. “Be mindful that there are bad individuals out there.”
Those individuals accounted for 104 thefts in and around the West Loop from October 9 through December 11. The next highest reported crime was criminal damage with 25 reports. There were 193 reported crimes, 39 of which resulted in arrests.
Pickpockets remain a nagging nuisance in the West Loop, Edwards said, particularly on West Madison and West Randolph, where restaurant patrons make relatively easy targets. Many thefts also occur at Dominick’s and Mariano’s.
How can you prevent being a victim? Edwards recommended keeping your valuables close at hand while dining out. And, if someone looks suspicious, he said one of your best moves is to make eye contact to let the suspect know you're on to him or her.
Sgt. Geno Rouse from the CPD Mass Transit Unit echoed that tip.
“We see a lot of thefts of iPhones and electronics from the El,” Sgt. Rouse said. “If you see someone walking from one train car to the next car, chances are they’re looking for an opportunity to grab an iPhone. They look for a target and when the train stops, they grab it and run.
“If you see someone walking from car to car who might be doing that, look at him and show no fear. Ladies, put your purse close to your body. And, don’t be afraid to challenge someone if you think they’re bumping into you to grab your belongings.”
Rouse also recommended keeping your smartphone or eReader under wraps during the train commute. And remember, if you have a smartphone or mp3 player in a pocket but you’re wearing the distinctive white Apple earbuds, they can telegraph you as having an iPhone or iPod.
And if you’re above ground in your car, parking on a West Loop street where you need a Pay Park receipt, remember to lock your car BEFORE you pay for a parking ticket. Even if you’re only walking a half block to get the ticket, an enterprising thief can open your car door, grab what’s inside and run while your back is turned.
The meeting also provided residents with an opportunity to share new problems and issues. One West Loop resident explained the chronic problem she’s witnessed near her home at West Jackson and Halsted. The problems usually surface on weekends between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., in front of the 24-hour restaurants. Loud fights are common there, she said, and she hears gunfire periodically. Officer Edwards and other officials at the meeting confirmed they knew about the problems at the intersection and were working with the restaurant owners to mitigate further problems.
Edwards provided the audience with an update on the new Near West 12th District Police Station at 1412 S. Blue Island. The new station should be up and running in another week, and a grand opening is scheduled for Dec. 15 at 10:45 a.m. Behind-the-scene tours will also be offered that day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.