Robber Targeting Women In Trendy Northwest Side Neighborhoods

UPDATED 02/02/12 4:24 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Police are warning people on the city’s Near West and Northwest sides about a robber on the loose who has been targeting women.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, so far, 12 attacks have been reported over the past couple of months in an area bounded by Ashland Avenue on the east, Central Park Avenue on the west, Diversey Avenue on the north and Division Street on the south. The locations of the robberies are in the Logan Square, Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods.

The most recent attack happened on busy Milwaukee Avenue just a couple blocks from the bustling and iconic intersection with Damen and North avenues in the heart of Wicker Park.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

Police say the suspect looks for victims late at night or early in the morning, although one of the attacks happened in broad daylight.

The robber walks up behind the victims and grabs away their purses, money or cell phones.

As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, three of the robberies happened in Ald. Roberto Maldonado’s 26th Ward.

“These offenders, they do not discriminate. They’re just going after women that aren’t by themselves,” Maldonado said. The victims have been of several races and age groups.

Maldonado met with a police commander Thursday to talk about the investigation. He also did something he’s never done: he alerted his constituents about the attacks on his Facebook page.

“We are using that instead of using the old-fashioned way, which was passing out flyers,” he said.

Maldonado was not the only one using social media to warn women in the area of the possible danger.

Tracy Reuter alerted her 300-plus Facebook friends about the danger.

“I was really nervous about it,” because she thinks she lives in a safe neighborhood. “I found the article on, I think it was your website, on the CBS website, and then I just shared it; because it’s kind of scary having that happen so close to home.”

One Facebook friend who saw that posting was Kristen Perez. She said knowing what’s been happening will make her more vigilant as she heads out at night.

“Facebook is pretty easy to use if you have a smart phone. It helps me find out about stuff,” she said. “I don’t generally read the newspapers so that’s how I get some information.”

The robber is described as an African-American man between the ages of 18 and 39, standing 5 feet 8 to 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighing 150 to 180 pounds. He was wearing a gray or brown hooded sweat shirt or a black puffy coat, and might have been driving a white four-door Cadillac DeVille made in the 1990s.

Residents say they are concerned, but people can avoid being victims if they’re extra-careful.

“I think it’s important that we are responsible ourselves. We need to know that we are not holding the phones out; we just need to be careful of our surroundings,” said resident Jolly Raizada. “Sometimes we are forced to walk alone – I have to walk to work right now – so it’s OK to walk alone. Just make sure you’re not so engaged in your cell phones and the gadgets you hold that you’re not aware of your surroundings.”

Another resident agreed that basic awareness is the best precaution.

“It sucks. It’s just depressing to think about that these are our neighborhoods, but, I mean, it’s like this everywhere. It just happens, and you just try to be cognizant about where you’re walking around,” said area resident Becca Birckhead.

Birckhead said neighbors have been raising awareness about the robberies on their own.

“One of my friends posted a link on Facebook, and then, like, tagged all the girls that she knew that live in the neighborhood, just to be like, ‘Beware, this is what’s going on,’ which is helpful,” she said.

Others said the neighborhood is not as safe as it seems.

“There’s a false security here because it is so busy. There’s stuff going on here at 2 a.m., you know, the streets are crowded; it’s kind of like New York in that way,” said Wicker Park artist Kevin Lahvic. “So it’s easy to see how you would feel that, ‘I’m not really alone, there’s all these people here. But if you were walking the dog or doing other things in the neighborhood, you realize that you just turn a corner and all of a sudden, you’re by yourself.”

Police have specified the locations and times of the 12 robberies:

• the 3100 block of West Fullerton Avenue, Dec. 4, 2011, 5:20 a.m.
• the 1800 block of North California Avenue, Dec. 17, 2011, 6 a.m.
• the 1700 block of North Central Park Avenue, Dec. 21, 2011, 6:15 a.m.
• the 1900 block of North Western Avenue, Dec. 22, 2011, 11 p.m.
• the 2100 block of North California Avenue, Dec. 24, 2011, 7:30 a.m.
• the 2000 block of North Kimball Avenue, Dec. 31, 2011, 11:20 p.m.
• the 1500 block of North Hoyne Avenue, Jan. 3, 2012, 3 a.m.
• the 1700 block of West Wabansia Avenue, Jan. 4, 2012, 4:32 p.m.
• the 2600 block of West Wellington Avenue, Jan. 6, 2012, 8 p.m.
• the 2100 block of North Milwaukee Avenue, Jan. 8, 2012, noon
• the 1500 block of North Maplewood Avenue, Jan. 20, 2012, 8 p.m.
• the 1500 block of North Milwaukee Avenue, Jan. 21, 2012, 2 a.m.

Police are urging women to walk in groups – especially at night – and not to listen to headphones or use cell phones or other electronic devices that act as a distraction while walking.

Meanwhile, police have increased patrols in the areas where the robberies occurred.

Anyone with information is asked to call Grand Central Area police detectives, at (312) 746-8362.

  • Mike P

    HIRE some Female UFC/MMA Champion Fighters to walk around with money sticking out of their purses.

    H O O R A Y – Perps with Crushed Windpipes, Fractured Spines, and Broken Noses!

  • Afro

    This is absolutely inexcusable and totally avoidable Pat Quinn I hope I hope you are happy with another


    How safe do you feel fellow Illinoisans?

    you can call Pat Quinn’s office and voice your support for HB 148 Brandon Phelps said he may bring it up again around March and guess what.

    ISRA is proud to sponsor Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day for 2012. Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Forget the hassle of parking near the Capitol! IGOLD will have buses going to Springfield from strategic locations throughout Illinois. Ride the bus, ride with your friends. This year there are additional buses in the Chicago area.

    • Tony Jeswald

      Seriously, you would want someone shooting at a guy who robbed them? Shouldn’t use of firearms be reserved for potentially fatal situations, not unarmed robberies?

      • THEE Yard Ape

        Geebuz Christ!!! You are truly some liberal POS !!!! Do us a favor and go fuk yourself!! I would have NO issues shooting some @ ss hole armed or not that robbed me. W T F is worng with you?? Take your turn the other cheek approach and go cast another vote for NObama. You and your kind are a BIG part of the problem and are FAST becoming the minority.

  • Percy

    Cultural Diversity is what makes our nation great. Would you prefer Germany’s model? Ask the Jews about how that went over. Wait some you guys are so racist I don’t know who you claim as white. Are Jews apart of your accepted white race or not? Are Italians, Spanards, Polish, Chechs? Whose in the “IN” crowd already and who has to be tolerated? Lastly, who gave anyone the right tolerate someone. We are all immigrants to this country unless you are native american. These arrogant comments you all make is hilarious, well not really, its so sad it’s funny.

    • Leroy Goldberg

      Diversity? Sure. Some of you kill, some of you steal, some of you collect welfare, some of you make babies….I can go on and on.

      Absolutely Percy, diverse.

  • Cal

    5’8 – 6’6, that is hilarious! Either look out for Mugsy Bogues or Michael Jordan, there has to be more than one robber.

  • Anglo-Saxon

    To hell with the law! If I were a woman in those areas, I would be carrying a pistol at all times. It would be in my pocket and ready to use. The only thing these monkeys would get from me is a .45 caliber hole in their face! The only good homie, is a dead homie!!! (This is a repost from this morning) Why the hell is CBS removing people’s opinions, AGAIN!!!!!

    • Tony Jeswald

      Maybe it’s because your so-called opinions are just racist rants.

  • rtrt

    As a female living in the above-noted areas, I found this article informative. I was happy to read that others living in the afflicted neighborhoods were working together and spreading awareness, which I viewed as acts of compassion stemming from desire for the greater well-being. I was eager to see other readers’ opinions and tips related to this recent string of muggings. Unfortunately, the comments included here are nothing short of the most disrespectful and archaic displays of racism and closed-mindedness I’ve encountered. Shame on all of you. I hate to think of the example you set for your children and peers– likely the reason there is still so much hate in this great city.

    • THEE Yard Ape

      Perhaps you will rethink your comment should anything ever happen to you?? I hope nothing ever does, but you can turn the other cheek and be open minded, I will simply re-load and be vigilant. You want to talk about racism?? Just how many stories do you read about where people are being attacked by whites??? So give me a fuking break !!!

      • rtrt

        I’m not sure where we disagree? And confused as to what opinion you think I will change should anything happen to me? To be sure, I will still find the comments posted here, for the most part, saddening. Perhaps you need to read more objectively.

      • Tony Jeswald

        So, fear is a reason to retreat into a bigoted, paranoid fantasy world? No, thanks.

  • Person Of Interest Held In Wicker Park, Logan Square Robberies « CBS Chicago

    […] A total of 13 attacks have been reported over the past couple of months in an area bounded by Ashlan… The locations of the robberies are in trendy Near Northwest Side neighborhoods of Logan Square, Wicker Park and Bucktown. […]

  • Kafka Brazilo

    You’ll never catch me,

  • juju

    let get this straight. a couple of coloreds are robbing women in trashy neighborhoods. what is the news here.

  • Wicker Park Woman Talks About Violent Robbery « CBS Chicago

    […] A rash of strongarm robberies has hit the Wicker Park, Bucktown and Logan Square neighborhoods in re…, although in the other incidents, the robber has worked alone. He has also targeted women walking alone. […]

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live